Mental health services cuts in England 'put lives at risk'

Cuts to adult mental health services in England have started damaging the quality of care given to patients, a report suggests.

The review by the King’s Fund think tank found there was now “widespread evidence of poor quality care”. Researchers linked this to the use of unproven, cheaper services in a bid to balance the books.

One mental health charity says “disappearing” services are putting lives at risk.

But the government said the amount of money being made available for mental health had been increased overall.

The review also pointed to growing evidence that there was inadequate support for those with severe problems.

It said only 14% of patients had reported receiving appropriate care in a crisis, while hospital bed occupancy rates were routinely exceeding recommended levels – leading to patients being sent to units many miles away from their home.

The think tank looked at official data and previous research as well as carrying out its own analysis to come to its conclusions.

It warned that many of the changes now being made to help trusts cope with cuts to their budgets – four in 10 have seen their income drop in the past year – represented a “leap in the dark” because of a lack of evidence they would work.

These included the merging of specialist teams that deal with crisis situations and those that provide early access to psychosis services, into generic community teams that are not always equipped to deal with the demands being placed on them.

 

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