£4.5m in mental health spending cuts to be made across five regions
Five regions of England are cutting spending on mental health, figures suggest.
Freedom of Information data obtained by Pulse magazine shows £4.5 million worth of cuts in 2017/18 by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Sefton, Scarborough, the Isle of Wight, St Helens and Walsall.
Mental health services in Walsall will be experiencing the largest cut, with the CCG reducing spending by £1.9m - or 3.6% - compared with last year.
Data received from 127 CCGs showed the total CCG spend on mental health increased by 4.15%.
NHS England said in its Five Year Forward View for mental health in February last year that CCGs should spend an extra £1 billion a year on mental health by 2020/21.
It also requires CCGs to increase their spend on mental health services in line with their budget increases.
Professor Simon Brake, chief officer for NHS Walsall CCG, said: "Walsall CCG benchmarks nationally as high-spending, falling within the upper quartile as an outlier. It has invested significantly more in previous years in mental health services than its CCG peers ahead of the national requirement to make investments in this area.
"This, combined with lower than average funding growth of only 1.4% compared to a national average uplift of 2.14%, has resulted in the CCG working closely with its local mental health providers to develop a transformation programme which meets national trajectories for moving care closer to home and improves quality of provision and outcomes whilst at the same time working within available financial resources."
A spokesperson from NHS South Sefton CCG said: " We have assurance from our main mental health providers for adults and children's services that they will be able to deliver the must dos set out in the Five Year Forward View for mental health within the budget allocations for 2017/2018 and 2018/2019."
NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG said the figures did not take into account other work it was doing on mental health.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP Committee, said: 'This goes against the pronouncements of Government that mental health will have priority, that we will see more support in the community, the promises we've had that there will be greater numbers of mental health workers in primary care.
"Cutting the mental health budget will have a reverse and damaging effect."
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: "Despite the raised hopes following the Royal princes' recent campaigning for mental health and the London Marathon, cuts to services across the country continue and people seeking help are still being failed.
"A recent report found that 40% of the mental health trusts in England had seen cuts to their budgets, and figures show mental health trusts received none of the extra £8 billion funding for the NHS over the last four years.
"The upcoming election revives the chance of committing more funds and ensuring they reach the frontline."
An NHS England spokesman said: "CCGs as a whole are on track to achieve the mental health investment target in 2016/17."