The King’s Fund report published this morning on cuts to mental health services is shocking. It has found there is now ‘widespread evidence of poor quality care’ and linked this to the ever increasing financial pressures on services. Only 14% of patients reported receiving appropriate care in a crisis. That means more than 8 out of 10 patients with the most severe problems were not getting the treatment they needed. This is clearly appalling and the King’s Fund research is a very welcome contribution to this policy debate.
So why is there cause for hope? Because five or so years ago this report might not have been written. I certainly don’t believe it would have received the publicity it has got today. This has to be good news. Mental health is no longer an issue which is seen by editors and producers as niche or not of interest to their readership/audience. The brilliant work done by the Time to Change campaign has almost certainly had a significant impact on changing attitudes. Mental health is an issue whose time has come.
Nevertheless it is clear that mental health services have always been at the back of the queue for funding and the front of the queue for cuts. In a time where budgets are tight this is evidently having an impact on care. This is why it is so essential that the spending review includes a major investment in mental health services. Let’s hope George Osborne is listening to the news this morning and is reminded of the necessity for a seismic shift in the provision of mental health services. Then, perhaps, today’s report will have been good news.