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The Budget: mental health services to get an extra £2 billion

Government goal for mental health will hinge on nurse recruitment and retention, cautions RCN

Government goal for mental health will hinge on nurse recruitment and retention, cautions RCN


The Chancellor leaving Downing Street to present today's Budget. Picture: Getty

The chancellor promised an extra £2 billion a year for mental health services in today's budget.

Philip Hammond said the government was committed to achieving ‘parity of esteem between mental health and physical health services’.

He also promised extra money for social care – an amount the RCN predicted will 'barely touches the sides'.

New crisis provision

Up to £250 million a year by 2023-24 will be invested in new mental health crisis services including, children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of England and mental health support in every major emergency department, Mr Hammond said.

The NHS will prioritise services for children and young people, with schools-based mental health support teams and specialist crisis teams for young people.

The RCN said the extra money should be ring-fenced to stop it being diverted to ease crises elsewhere in the NHS.

‘It’s difficult to see how this vision will be realised without a sufficient, well-trained nursing workforce'

Dame Donna Kinnair, acting general secretary, RCN

RCN acting chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘Ensuring a bigger proportion of the money promised by the Chancellor to the NHS is spent on mental health is a crucial first step to correcting the historic underfunding of services for people with mental health problems.

‘While it makes sense to set up closer links between schools, social services and the NHS, around 5,000 mental health nurses have left the health service since 2010, so it’s difficult to see how this vision will be realised without a sufficient, well-trained nursing workforce. A&E departments already have significant staffing gaps.

'£650 million to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse'

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive, Alzheimer's Society

‘Making mental health nursing an attractive career and retaining experienced mental health staff must become a priority to ensure no one with a mental health problem is left behind.’

Mr Hammond also confirmed the June announcement by prime minister Theresa May of an extra £20.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years.

Social care announcement 

Local authorities will receive an extra £650 million for care of older people and those with disabilities, and there will be an extra £10 million for air ambulances.

Alzheimer's Society Jeremy Hughes said: ‘£650 million to prop up the broken social care system only just staves off total collapse.’

Professor Kinnair said: 'The extra money for social care is a step in the right direction but, in truth, those caring for vulnerable people will know that this amount barely touches the sides. The current funding gap for social care is estimated to be £2 billion by 2020– we need cold hard cash to follow the forthcoming social care green paper and other future proposals.'


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