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BMA Criticises Mental Health Underfunding

The British Medical Association (BMA) has raised concerns about the underfunding of mental health hospitals after research found that the budgets these trusts had shrunk by £150m in the last four years.

The Health Foundation conducted a research for the BBC’s Panorama programme revealed the fall despite the government’s claims that that NHS funding has increased by £8bn in that time.

As part of the Health Foundation research, a Freedom of Information survey sent to 33 mental health trusts has found a 50% rise in unexpected mental health deaths at the trusts between 2012-13 and 2015-16.

The chair of the BMA’s community care committee, Dr Gary Wannan said the chronic underfunding of mental health services is totally unacceptable. It has left some of the most vulnerable people in society without the support and care that they desperately need.

It is very important that the mental health problems are identified and diagnosed as early as possible and that people have access to the right care and support, he added.

Anita Charlesworth, the Health Foundation’s analyst told the BBC that mental health trusts have been receiving a lessening share of the NHS budgets as demand from patients increased.

She further added that the National Health Service has not set out to cut mental health services but they’ve to look for cuts to make up that budget shortfall and often it is mental health services that have suffered the effect of those.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said that the trend of rising death owed to changes in the way the NHS records and investigated such deaths. This year mental health spending by Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs) has gone up by £342m, omitting the PM’s allocation of an additional £1.4bn for mental health during this Parliament.

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