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Poor funding for mental health trusts is jeopardising patient safety – NHS Providers

Survey of trusts in England finds inadequate investment to maintain and upgrade buildings
Construction site

Survey of trusts in England finds inadequate investment to maintain and upgrade buildings

Lack of investment in NHS mental health trusts in England is putting patient safety at risk, according to NHS Providers.

The organisation a membership body for NHS trusts has raised concern following publication of its recent survey results.

Respondents comprised 37 of the 54 mental health trusts in England, of which two thirds said they will not receive the capital funding they need this year to invest in urgent repairs or upgrade their facilities.

Inappropriate wards being used for patient care

According to NHS Providers, 350 dormitory-style wards are still in use across the NHS in England. Health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission has warned that this

Survey of trusts in England finds inadequate investment to maintain and upgrade buildings


Many trusts say current funding will not cover repairs and upgrades to facilities. Picture: iStock

Lack of investment in NHS mental health trusts in England is putting patient safety at risk, according to NHS Providers.

The organisation – a membership body for NHS trusts – has raised concern following publication of its recent survey results. 

Respondents comprised 37 of the 54 mental health trusts in England, of which two thirds said they will not receive the capital funding they need this year to invest in urgent repairs or upgrade their facilities.   

Inappropriate wards being used for patient care

According to NHS Providers, 350 dormitory-style wards are still in use across the NHS in England. Health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission has warned that this type of ward does not support people’s privacy or dignity, and should not be used for patient care.

The survey also found that:

  • A quarter (27%) of trusts that responded said current levels of capital funding in 2020-21 will meet less than 50% of their needs for next year.
  • Two thirds (69%) estimate they need between £50m and £150m of capital investment over the next five to ten years. 
  • One trust said it requires just over half a billion pounds to address maintenance issues and transform services to meet the needs of patients.

‘Crumbling’ infrastructure still in place

RCN professional lead for mental health Catherine Gamble said many nurses are working in facilities that were built before the birth of the NHS in ‘buildings that are almost crumbling’. 

She added: ‘Combined with more than 9,700 vacant nurse posts in mental health in England, the absence of much-needed funding is a cause of concern for mental health nursing staff across the country.’ 

Long-term funding required

NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said trusts should have access to investment over a long-term period to rebuild and upgrade services.

Responding to the survey results, a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said mental health services in England will be expanded, with an additional investment of £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24.


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