Rethink Mental IllnessSeveral NHS mental health providers saw double figure real term reductions in their income from 2012 to 2014, pushing the system closer to “breaking point” according to Rethink Mental Illness.

The figures were revealed in an investigation by the Health Service Journal that showed there are 3,640 fewer nurses and 213 fewer doctors working in mental health compared to staffing levels two years ago.

Trusts have had to make cutbacks in response to having lost 2.3% of mental health funding – the equivalent of £253m over two years.

In response to the findings, Martin McShane, NHS England director for people with long term conditions, said its mandate to deliver “parity of esteem” for mental health patients was a five year plan that was “about much more than just the NHS”.

“In 18 months we have taken action to deliver parity, including creating choice, better physical healthcare for people with serious mental illness, better crisis care, better information and, with Monitor, are consulting on new payment systems,” he said.

Further reading: Cuts causing mental health crisis among young people, YoungMinds claims 

Further findings showed that a reduction in mental health capacity of 846 beds across 46 trusts has led to patients being moved up to 300 miles to access the appropriate care services.

Mark Winstanley from mental health charity Rethink believes the data is “yet more evidence that our mental health system is at breaking point”.

“Mental health accounts for 23% of the disease burden but gets just 11% of the NHS budget and until we address this fundamental inequality, people with mental illness will continue to suffer,” he said.

“If the political will was there, the money could be found. We agree with NHS England that parity of esteem is about more than just the NHS, but it would be a good place to start. The actions they point to as evidence for delivering parity are basic things that should have been sorted out years ago. They help to bring mental health care up to a basic level, but in no way do they bring mental health in line with the rest of the NHS.

“We know what the problems are and we also know what works. This is not complicated and could be rectified if the Government and the NHS made it a priority.”

To read the full findings click here