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Labour MP Luciana Berger said Theresa May’s ‘cuts are harming mental health services’ [Image: PA].


Jeremy Hunt promised to expand mental healthcare, creating 21,000 new posts by 2021, on July 30. It is now September 20 and that plan is in tatters after Clinical Commissioning Groups said they couldn’t afford it and will reduce their provision.

It’s not a record in terms of the brevity of Tory promises – consider some of their mayfly manifesto pledges from this year’s general election campaign – but it is yet another demonstration of the minority government’s inability to achieve anything positive at all.

Before anybody points out that Theresa May promised to improve mental healthcare in January, just remember that she never offered to put any money into her plan and it was essentially meaningless.

And how much are these CCGs giving to private health companies, who will pass much of the money on to their shareholders as profit – meaning it will not be used to provide any health care at all?

Finally, can everybody see what’s missing from the Department of Health statement? Well, it could have mentioned the amount of investment in mental health in 2010, so we could work out the exact amount by which it has risen. Then we could calculate it as a percentage increase, which we could compare with rates of inflation over the last seven years to work out whether there has been only a money-terms (and therefore meaningless) increase or an actual rise in spending.

As it is, the comment is meaningless and casts suspicion on the validity of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

The Government has been accused of “empty promises” over boosting mental health provision as new figures reveal that half of local NHS bodies plan to slash spending on vital services.

Cash-strapped Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England said they will reduce the proportion of their budgets spent on offering mental health support in 2017/18, despite previous commitments from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that spending would increase.

New figures show that 50 per cent of CCGs would see their mental health budgets squeezed next year, compared to 57 per cent in 2016/17 and 38 per cent the year before.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “This government has increased, not decreased, investment in mental health services. Since 2010, spending on mental health has risen to a record £11.6bn this year, with a further investment of £1bn every year by 2020/21 and we expect CCGs to increase their spending as set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.”

Read more: Government accused of ’empty promises’ on mental health as NHS plans to slash funding


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