In 2018/19 the NHS in Kent & Medway spent £266m on Mental Health or– 11.3% of its whole NHS budget of £2.3 billion. This is equivalent to £143.68 per head or approx £12 a month spent on Mental Health alone. This was the 4th joint lowest spend on Mental Health in the country.
Mental health services have been underfunded for decades, resulting in poor quality services and long waiting times for treatments. In 2016, the NHS committed to investing £1.6bn in these services by 2020/21, and a further £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 as part of its Long Term Plan.
The 2018/19 NHS digital data shows significant variation, with some areas of England having spent almost half per person on mental health compared to other places as the interactive map below shows
The areas of greatest concern in 2018/19 included: Kent and Medway; Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin; Gloucestershire; Somerset; Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire; and Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West which all failed to meet the national average.
Some areas of England invested more in mental health – with South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw committing more than £220 per person per year/£18 per person per month in 2018/19. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (£208 per head per year/£17.33 per head per month/16 per cent of budget) and North Central London (£205 per head/£17.09 per head per month/16 per cent of budget).
The treatment one receives ought not depend on where you live. We are close to the end of the five year plan the NHS set back in 2016, in which it promised to make serious financial investment to improve mental health services. Positive change is emerging on the ground, across the county and the country. However, the NHS data shows a long term historic postcode lottery still exists.
In Kent & Medway the number of people aged between 18 -69 in contact with adult mental health services at the end of April 2019 stood at 38,095, according to NHS Digital data. Mental Health services are commissioned by the Care Commissioning Groups of which there are eight in our county. Kent & Medway has a population of 1.8 million.
If Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly, South Yorkshire and North Central London can spend five to six percent more of their overall health care budgets on Mental Health, then Kent & Medway can do the same. There are no excuses. They have the budget, and we call upon those responsible to increase the overall budgets for the remainder of the NHS plan.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the people NOT the powerful