DOCTORS are set to spend just seven per cent of their budget on mental health services despite huge rises in the numbers asking for help.
By 2015/16 Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group will spend just over £14million on mental health out of a budget in excess of £187.2million, with the rest of the money being allocated to physical health services.
Although the actual amount being invested is increasing from almost £13.5million in 2013/14, the proportion of the CCG’s budget earmarked for mental health will actually drop from eight per cent.
The percentage decrease comes despite a renewed focus by the NHS to put mental health on a par with physical health and for more money to be invested in mental health services.
The CCG, which contains all 22 GP practices across both towns, has also identified redesigning mental health pathways and a ‘wellness’ approach as one of the key ways to improve the health of residents.
Mental health is one of the CCG’s seven local priorities and also features among the four priorities for Worcestershire set out by the Health and Wellbeing Board.
Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG is not alone though. A Freedom of Information request by shadow public health minister Luciana Berger, revealed 67 per cent of commissioning groups spent less than ten per cent of their budget on mental health.
Among the lowest spenders is nearby Solihull CCG which spends just 6.69 per cent of its budget tackling mental health, compared to West London CCG which devotes over 18 per cent of its cash to the issue.
A spokesman for Worcestershire’s CCGs said they would hold reserves for future investments in mental health as the national strategy emerged and had no plans to disinvest in mental health services. He added in real terms the increase over the three years from 2013/14 to 2015/16 was 7.6 per cent for Redditch and Bromsgrove, 6.9 per cent in Wyre Forest and 5.8 per cent in South Worcestershire.
Coun Marcus Hart, chair of the Health and Wellbeing board, said: “In the case of mental health, there is a wish to shift our spend across the county towards prevention and low level interventions. The overall increase in budget is good news for people in Redditch and Bromsgrove.”