England

Mental health in Norfolk and Suffolk '£30m underfunded'

The NSFT based at Hellesdon Hospital
Image caption The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust is based at Hellesdon Hospital on the outskirts of Norwich

Mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk have been "dramatically underfunded" by £30m over four years, according to the chief executive of a foundation trust.

Michael Scott said some of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust's (NSFT) front line services were suffering.

He said the trust had been forced to overspend by £2m this year.

The government said it had gone "further than ever before to put mental health on a par with physical health".

On Saturday the BBC revealed the trust had 50 patients in beds outside the counties, due to a lack of funding and a shortage of beds.

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk has said the trust's programme to make £40m of cuts by 2018 has had a "devastating impact on people who rely on mental health services".

Image caption Michael Scott, chief executive of the NSFT, has called for parity of funding between mental health trusts and acute hospitals

Mr Scott told the BBC: "The trust is dramatically underfunded. The money that comes through from the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) is insufficient for the services we provide.

"If we had been funded the same level as our local acute hospitals, we would have £30m more than we do.

"This year we are about £2m overspent. That's a direct result of not having sufficient income coming into the trust."

'Very supportive'

He said the NHS budget had grown modestly but had "not found its way into the mental health".

"Our Clinical Commisioning Groups (CCG) are very supportive but there are national funding mechanisms. That means the money is not going to mental health," he said.

While mainstream hospital funding is based on the number of patients, mental health receives a block grant unrelated to the number of users.

This has seen the budgets of the mainstream hospitals in the two counties rise by 15% since 2010, while mental health service funding, despite a 4.4% increase in users, has fallen by 3%.

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Suffolk CCGs said: "Mr Scott notes that local CCGs are very supportive, and directs all of his comments towards national funding formulas.

"Mental health is funded on the same basis as elsewhere in England."

The Department of Health said: "We have gone further than ever before to put mental health on a par with physical health and have instructed the NHS to make sure every community does the same."

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