Mental health charity Mind has called on Parliament to back a House of Lords amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill that would commit the Government to financial investment in mental health services in step with demand.
On Tuesday, previous chief executive of NHS England Lord Simon Stevens tabled an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently progressing through Parliament, that would require an annual report on NHS mental health expenditure and demand.
- See also: 'The Health and Care Bill: How will the new legislation influence local mental health care?'
The Government’s plans for the Health and Social Care Bill were published in July of last year. The new piece of legislation is part of broader public health ambitions to improve local planning through enhanced coordination and collaboration between specialist health organisations.
''Levelling up’ the nation’s mental health strategy'
Mind welcomed Lord Stevens’ bid to make sure this and future governments report on the progress made to increase the NHS's investment in mental health services.
- See also: 'Annual NHS stats show a rise in the number of people detained under the Mental Health Act'
- See also: 'NICE guidelines offer up new menu of treatment options for depression'
Responding to the amendment, Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, emphasised the importance of maintaining investment to clear the considerable backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic currently experienced in mental health services and to ensure there is adequate future funding for a historically neglected, but undoubtedly essential, sector in public health.
"The pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of a nation, and as a result, our mental health services are under even more pressure. There are currently 1.5 million people on a waiting list for treatment, and a further eight million who would benefit from treatment can't get on the list. While physical health services are stretched too, mental health services have been disproportionately affected and were lagging behind even before the pandemic.”
“We know that the longer people wait for treatment, the more unwell they become, and the more intensive – and expensive – the treatment they need becomes. Far too many people are being left without support, which is why additional funding for mental health services is vital.”
“It’s significant that the former chief executive of NHS England has tabled an amendment to this Bill, given he knows better than most the best ways to improve how we fund mental health services and how different parts of the system can be held to account. If the UK Government is serious about 'levelling up' and treating mental and physical health equally, they must accept this amendment, which would make sure they were accountable for increasing mental health spending in line with need.”