Cuts leave NHS Mental Health Services Dangerously Close to Collapse
This title was printed in The Guardian on 14th August 2014 (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cuts-leave-nhs-mental-health-services-dangerously-close-to-collapse-9667370.html)– but it feels like we have heard this so many times before. At a time when mental health issues are heavily publicized and more openly discussed than ever before, it seems untimely that these much-needed services are facing yet more cuts.
How have NHS mental health services been affected by government cuts?
In a pattern that has continued throughout recent years, NHS mental health services are again facing severe staff shortages. The Guardian quotes an investigation by Health Service Journal (HSJ) showing that there are almost 4,000 fewer nurses and over 300 fewer doctors working in mental health services than two years ago. This is reportedly due to disproportionate funding cuts compared to other NHS services and a subsequent closure of key services and outreach facilities. Bed availability is the most pressing issue.
How are the cuts affecting patients?
Mind – a major mental health charity reports that they have seen significant increases in relapses rates in line with cuts to services. Those recovering and coping with mental health problems are being faced with the removal of the community support network that keeps them out of hospital. http://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/cuts-to-nhs-mental-health-services/ . Charities are now being stretched to bursting point to fill gaps left by the NHS.
Furthermore, Rethink Mental Illness has published a disturbing report which points to a huge reduction in the number of people being offered early intervention support in the community – resulting in even more people ending up in residential or hospital care. It seems that cuts to NHS services are actually increasing the number of people needing their help and many are now not getting help until much later. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26957435