Mental and physical health ‘must be equally valued’

25 Oct 18

Mental health funding must double by 2030 to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health.

Spending must rise from £12bn in 2017-18 to £16.1bn in 2023-24 and reach £23.9bn  by 2030-31, according to research by the Institute for Public Policy Research published today.  

The report said that mental health spending would need to grow by 5% a year until 2024, compared with 3.4% already promised for the NHS as a whole, and by 5.5% by 2030.

The IPPR also urged the government to commit a further £1.1bn a year of NHS spending - on top of the £20bn announced in June -  to support the drive for parity of esteem.

This funding, it said, is needed to deliver training for NHS staff, public health campaigns to prevent mental illness and building and upgrading more facilities for treatment.

The IPPR urged the NHS to adopt a single definition of parity of esteem.

Successive governments have committed to parity of esteem, with a legal responsibility for the NHS to ensure physical and mental health were given equal value through the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

The coalition government came up with a plan to achieve parity of esteem by 2020 and Theresa May pledged for mental and physical health to be equally valued when she first took office.

Experts, however, have said that that “parity of esteem” is still a long way off

The think-tank said the definition should be that “people living with a mental health condition must have an equal chance of a long and fulfilling life as those with a physical condition.”

Harry Quilter, senior research fellow at IPPR and lead author of the report, said: “Parity of esteem, to which the NHS has committed, cannot just be talking about mental health as well as physical health. It has to lead to equal access to treatment and better outcomes for patients.

“Only a minority of people with mental health conditions currently receive access to treatment. We would not tolerate that for cancer, diabetes, heart disease or any other illness, and we should not tolerate it for mental ill health either.”

The IPPR said that mental health costs the UK economy around £100bn every year and 25% of people in the UK experience mental health problems each year.

Despite accounting for 23% of the disease burden, mental health care currently receives just 11% of the NHS budget, according to the think-tank.

The IPPR’s report coincides with a letter signed by a coalition of 15 organisations urging the prime minister to increase funding for mental health.

The Department for Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.

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