Mental health cuts 'risk lives'
Lives will be put at risk by cuts to NHS funding for mental health services, experts and doctors have warned.
In a letter to the Guardian newspaper, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network and the Centre for Mental Health said the Government has betrayed a pledge on the issue.
It says a recent decision by NHS England and the health regulator Monitor effectively cuts funding for mental health services by 20% more than hospital trusts.
The cut "completely contravenes the Government's promise to put mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing", it says.
Following the scandal at Mid Staffordshire, NHS trusts have been given extra funding to help comply with recommendations made during the inquiry.
But the letter argues that this funding has been withheld from mental health services - creating a "significant" budget shortfall and sending a " disturbing and deeply disappointing message (which) is likely to have far-reaching consequences for people with mental illness".
The letter says mental health services are already "straining at the seams" and the move will cost more in the long run, due to more people reaching crisis point, extra admissions to A&E, and more people needing hospital care.
And it warns of the potential for another scandal like Mid Staffs, saying: "People died because those in charge failed to respond to repeated warnings that things were going wrong.
"Let's not make the same mistake twice. Time is running out and we urge NHS England and Monitor to do the right thing and resolve this issue swiftly."