An additional £1.25bn will be spent on a “major expansion” of mental health services for children and mothers of new babies over the next five years, chancellor George Osborne has confirmed in today’s budget.
It follows an announcement made earlier this week by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg that the government would invest an additional £1.25bn on mental health services over the course of the next parliament. However, he did not say how the money would be distributed.
Today’s budget has confirmed more than £1bn of this funding will be allocated for investment in creating new access standards to mental health care for children.
“Those who suffer from [children’s and maternal mental health] illnesses have been forgotten for too long. Not anymore. We stand for opportunity for all”
In addition, £118m will be used to roll out the Children and Young People’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme across the whole country by 2018-19.
Another £1.5m will be distributed by the Department for Education to pilot a new training scheme for creating designated points of contact in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and in schools. The scheme was proposed earlier this week by the government’s own taskforce on children’s mental health.
Maternal mental health services, meanwhile, will receive £75m by 2020 to improve care for women who experience mental ill health during the perinatal or antenatal period.
An extra £8.4m over the next five years will also be invested in NHS services in England for war veterans.
Cognitive behavioural therapy will also be provided online for people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and other financial support schemes from early 2016.
From this summer, the government has committed to start co-locating IAPT therapists in more than 350 Jobcentres, according to the HM Treasury’s budget document.
The chancellor said the extra funding for these services would ensure those children and mothers who have mental health problems would not be “forgotten” anymore.
Announcing his budget in the House of Commons today, Mr Osborne said: “In this budget we are providing funding for a major expansion of mental health services for children and those suffering from maternal mental illness.
“Those who suffer from these illnesses have been forgotten for too long. Not anymore. We stand for opportunity for all,” he said.
The Royal College of Midwives has welcomed the funding boost for women with mental health problems during the perinatal or antenatal period, but said more money will be needed to deliver the level of service required.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “This is a step in the right direction towards offering the level of care and support needed.”
Health think tank the Nuffield Trust said the funding boost for maternity and children’s mental health was “much needed and long overdue”.
“This [funding boost] is a step in the right direction towards offering the level of care and support needed”
However, it warned that today’s budget was not clear enough about the wider funding plans for the rest of the NHS over the next five years.
“Yet that is the timescale on which NHS England, rightly, thinks spending must be committed in order to drive improvement and maintain quality,” said Ruth Thorlby, senior fellow in health policy at the Nuffield Trust.
The NHS Confederation, which represents commissioners and providers, echoed these thoughts, calling for an “open, public debate” on NHS finances.
The organisation said this discussion about investment was required in order to deliver NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which estimates the NHS must save around £22bn per year by 2020 to address a growing estimated defecit.
“The outlook for the next five years looks even harder for the NHS. The Five Year Forward View sets ambitious efficiency savings that are above what the service has delivered in tough circumstances over the last five years,” said NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster.
He added: “Even where political parties commit to the £8 billion of funding this requires, it’s a daunting task. What is clear is that these savings, worth £22bn, won’t be delivered through just price cuts. Instead, we will fundamentally need to change the delivery of care.”