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Budget: Hammond reveals measures to support mental health

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Philip Hammond announced plans to create a new mental health crisis service and also pledged a funding boost for social care services in his autumn budget speech this afternoon.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the government made its “big choice” for this budget in June when Theresa May declared an extra £20.5bn a year for the NHS by 2023-24.

“I can announce that the NHS 10-year plan will include a new mental health crisis service”

Philip Hammond

As part of this increased funding, the NHS was tasked with drawing up a 10-year plan of how the money would be spent, he told MPs today.

Revealing a “sneak preview” to what the plan would include ahead of its release later this year, Mr Hammond said a new mental health crisis service would be launched.

He said: “There are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer mental illness.

“Today I can announce that the NHS 10-year plan will include a new mental health crisis service with comprehensive mental health support available in every major A&E, a children and young people’s crisis team in every part of the country, more mental health ambulances, more safe havens in the community and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline,” he said.

“These new services will ensure those suffering from a crisis young or old can get the help they need, ending the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and ending too the tragedy of too many lives lost to suicide,” he said, while delivering the budget today.

“I have never signed off a PFI contract, and I can confirm today that I never will”

Philip Hammond

By 2023-24, an extra £2bn a year will be spent on mental health services, the Treasury has confirmed.

Mr Hammond said departmental funding allocations would be settled in the spending review next year but in today’s budget he pledged an immediate boost for local authorities to cope with rising demand for social care.

On top of the £240m boost revealed by health secretary Matt Hancock earlier this month for social care winter pressures, Mr Hammond said he would make available a further £650m of grant funding for councils to be spent on these services in 2019-20.

He promised an additional £45m in this financial year for grants to help disabled people make necessary amendments to their home to improve their quality of life.

The government would also invest a further £84m over the next five years to be given to 20 councils caring for high or rising numbers of children in care, Mr Hammond said.

He told the Commons: “We will shortly publish our green paper on the future of social care, setting out the choices, some of them difficult, for making our social care system sustainable into the future, but I recognise the immediate pressure local authorities face in regards to social care.”

Mr Hammond also assured in his budget speech that the government would not sign any more private finance initiative (PFI) infrastructure contracts.

“I have never signed off a PFI contract, and I can confirm today that I never will,” he told the Commons.

At the start of his autumn budget statement, he had told MPs that the “era of austerity is finally coming to an end”.

Royal College of Nursing

Leading nurse becomes patient safety charity patron

Source: Kate Stanworth

Dame Donna Kinnair

But Dame Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, questioned how the new crisis service would be brought to fruition when the mental health nurse workforce was shrinking.

She said: “Ensuring a bigger proportion of the money promised by the chancellor to the NHS is spent on mental health is a crucial first step to correcting the historical underfunding of services for people with mental health problems.

“This will go some way towards putting physical and mental health services on an equal footing – as long as the extra money is ringfenced to prevent it being diverted to ease crises at NHS trusts as another tough winter approaches,” said Dame Donna.

“While it makes sense to set up closer links between schools, social services and the NHS, around 5,000 mental health nurses have left the health service since 2010, so it’s difficult to see how this vision will be realised without a sufficient, well-trained nursing workforce. A&E departments already have significant staffing gaps,” she added.

“Making mental health nursing an attractive career and retaining experienced mental health staff must become a priority to ensure no one with a mental health problem is left behind,” Dame Donna said.

sara gorton for index

sara gorton for index

Sara Gorton

Sara Gorton, head of health at the union, Unison, also said more needed to be done to support the mental health workforce if the new services were to be delivered.  

“Promising more funding is one thing – actually delivering is another,” she said. “There’s no doubt more money is needed. But the government must listen to those quitting mental health jobs every day and do more to attract and hold onto highly skilled staff.”

She added: “More must be done to make mental health services safer and kinder places to work – for the benefit of patients and staff.”

Geraldine Walters, director of education and standards at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, welcomed the new investment in mental health.

However, she called for funding to be allocated through the 10-year NHS plan to cover continued professional development for the nurses staffing the new services being created.

She said: “It’s encouraging to see that the government have committed to prioritising mental health services in the UK as part of its NHS 10-year plan.

Geraldine Walters Jan09 3

Geraldine Walters

“Mental health nurses provide vital mental health support to those who need it and across a range of settings, including in hospitals, schools, prisons and the community,” she said.

“Our new standards for the education of nurses recognise the increasing importance of mental health care and place greater emphasis on mental health training. All nursing students will be required to demonstrate a greater depth of knowledge, more advanced skills in mental health and ensure they are ready to deliver first class mental health care when they qualify,” she added.

Ms Walters said: “It will be important that the NHS 10-year plan also includes a commitment to funding continued professional development for the nurses who will staff any new services.”

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said: “The prospect of an additional £2bn of funding for mental health by 2023-24 is a welcome step on the journey towards true parity of esteem.

“The scale of the challenge the sector faces cannot be underestimated,” he said. “Last week’s report from the IPPR concludes that a 5% annual increase in the mental health budget is absolutely necessary in order to achieve true parity with physical health.

“It is positive to see that specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country as we know how important it is to address mental illness as early as possible,” said Mr Duggan.

”However, we must keep our eyes on the immediate needs of our core inpatient and community mental health services, and we must also remember that social care, capital budgets and public health will need additional funding,” he added.

Sean O’Sullivan, head of health and social policy at the Royal College of Midwives, called for assurances that the new provisions announced in the budget would extend to maternal mental health.

He said: “I trust that the chancellor’s reference to mental health and children and young people extends to maternity care for pregnant women and their developing babies.

“We would want to see some of this money going to improve care for these women,” he said. ”This includes guaranteeing every hospital trust has a specialist maternal mental health midwife, who can ensure pregnant women get the best possible support with their mental health during pregnancy.

“There is also a pressing need to ensure women get the best care and support after the birth of their baby,” he said. “This is so that any signs of postnatal depression (PND) can be recognised and treated, so that women get the support they need if they suffer from PND.

“This means investing more in midwives and maternity services generally outside of this announcement, and I hope that this is part of the chancellor’s calculations for the £20bn for the NHS,” he added.

Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, welcomed the extra £650m for social care but said it was still “far short” of the £2.35bn that ADASS identified would be needed in 2019-20.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes added: “£650m to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse. It does nothing for people with dementia who are footing the bill themselves, while people with other diseases are getting free support through the NHS.

“We’re told austerity is over, but people living with dementia have been forgotten, and the budget was a missed opportunity to end this injustice,” he said. “Now the pressure is on for the government to create a properly funded and joined-up system that can deliver high quality dementia care.”


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