The Health Foundation responds to a pledge by the Liberal Democrats to raise mental health funding to £3.5bn over the next parliament

9 Apr 2015 04:58 PM

The Liberal Democrats recently pledged to increase mental health funding to £3.5bn over the next parliament, as part of an annual £8bn to help plug the funding gap by 2020.

Felicity Dormon, Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation, comments:

'Around 20% of the population of England have a mental health problem, and the societal and economic costs of poor mental health are estimated at £105bn a year. More than two million people a year have some sort of contact with mental health services. However, the NHS does not provide support for many who need it.

'The Health Foundation’s recent report Is mental health care improving? shows declining quality in mental health services outside of talking therapies for anxiety and depression, and how mental health services have historically had lower funding relative to need. More spending on mental health can redress these issues, provided it is focused on revolutionising the way mental health care is delivered – making services more preventative and better suited to people’s needs.

'However, as our briefing NHS Finances: the challenge all parties need to face made clear, the £8bn is the minimum needed for the NHS to maintain current quality – improvements in care will require further funding. Re-balancing total NHS spend in favour of mental health may be the right thing to do, but it could mean quality in other areas suffers, and any party that makes this pledge will need to be clear on where this will be.'

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Notes to editors

The Health Foundation's 'Three tests for a credible health policy' can be downloaded from our publications section.

'Is mental health care improving?', part of the Health Foundation's quality briefing, is also available.

'NHS Finances: the challenges all parties need to face' is also available for download.