Mental health services under 'huge pressure' amid budget cuts
Mental health services are under "huge pressure", a leading think tank has said, as it called for an end to cuts which it said could be responsible for a decline in the quality of care in the sector.
Evidence of poor quality care is widespread, with less than a fifth of people feeling they received appropriate care in a crisis, the King's Fund said.
The number of people reporting a poor experience of mental health care in the community has risen, their analysis showed.
While the organisation said a lack of "robust data" makes it hard to draw a final conclusion on the state of the sector, it warned that efforts to cut costs - including so-called transformation programmes - may be linked to poor patient care.
" These transformation programmes have usually resulted in costs reductions and have prevented many mental health providers from falling into deficit. This may have come at the expense of patient care.
"There is evidence of increased variation in care and reduced access to services as a result of the changes."
The body warned of negative effects from further funding cuts - reporting that 40% of trusts had their budgets reduced in the past two financial years.
It said: "As their financial position deteriorates, many mental health trusts are considering another wave of large-scale changes. This risks destabilising services further and reducing the quality of care for patients.
"There is a clear need for mental health services to focus on using evidence to improve practice and reduce variations in care.
"However, it is essential that this is underpinned by stable funding, with no more cuts to budgets."
Labour's mental health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said: "This is yet another damning report on mental health, revealing a picture of a system that is falling deeper into crisis.
"Ministers have failed to translate their warm words on mental health into progress on the ground. Instead, they have presided over service cuts, staff shortages and widespread poor-quality care.
"It's not enough for David Cameron to talk of 'parity of esteem' for mental health. He and his Government must now accept their failings and urgently set out what action they will take to put this right."