Anxiety UK has called for the new GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to learn from their predecessors’ past mistakes when it comes to funding mental health services.

The charity fears budget pressures will lead to CCGs – which replace primary care trusts in April and will commission mental health services locally in the future – to look for savings on the current arrangements that are in place in many areas.

Anxiety UK voiced its concerns after former care services minister Paul Burstow MP recently revealed spending is already three times less on mental health services in some areas than it is on others.                

In addition, spending on mental health care overall fell for the second year running according to figures provided by Department of Health officials to the House of Commons health select committee recently.

Burstow himself has warned that: “short-sighted penny pinching is condemning people to a lifetime of mental ill health.”

Anxiety UK’s CEO, Nicky Lidbetter, said: “We would urge the new commissioners of mental health services to learn from the past funding mistakes that saw spending across the country varying so greatly.

“There is a strong economic case to invest in mental health services as failure to do so will only will only increase the pressure on more expensive acute care while leaving families in deeper crises.

“We would urge them to put mental health on a par with physical health services and not to be tempted to save money in the short term because this really is a short-sighted approach particularly at a time when services like ours are experiencing unprecedented demand.”