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Mental health expenditure falls for the first time in 10 years

8th August 2012

Department of Health reports released last week have revealed that mental health spending has dropped by 1% in 2011-12.

Pound Sign

This is the first time in ten years that expenditure has fallen as overall spending went up by 59% in the decade from 2001-2.

The report said expenditure on mental health for the elderly was particularly affected, decreasing by 3.1% to £2.83 billion last year.

Although David Cameron pledged to tackle the "dementia challenge" and improve care, and the government said it would treat mental health and physical health equally, overall spending decreased by £65 million to £6.63 billion last year.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: "We know during difficult economic times mental health is an easy target for cuts."

"Given that mental health services have historically been under-funded it is hard to see how a reduction in real term spending will lead to mental and physical health being on a level."

The largest fall was at NHS South Central, with a decrease of 5.3%. Seven strategic health authorities saw a decrease in expenditure on elderly mental health care, with the biggest cut of 13% in the North East.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: "Under pressure, the NHS is reverting to its default position and relegating mental health to the margins. This is the wrong response. Even within a reduced NHS budget, the demands of 21st century living require that mental health is made a bigger priority."

"Ministers need to start putting their money where their mouth is. They must urgently send the clearest of signals to the NHS that mental health is a spending priority."

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