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Cuts are to blame for region’s mental health crisis, councillor claims

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:27 30 November 2018

Karen Davis at a demonstration for mental health outside Carrow Road earlier this year. Picture: Karen Davis

Karen Davis at a demonstration for mental health outside Carrow Road earlier this year. Picture: Karen Davis

Karen Davis

Nearly £32m has been cut from mental health services in the region in the last five years, it has been claimed.

As Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) was plunged into special measures for the third time on Wednesday, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said the situation was “not about money, it’s about leadership”.

And NSFT boss Antek Lejk said: “I don’t want to say it’s all because we’re underfunded, there are things to fix.”

But Karen Davis, a Labour councillor on Norwich City Council and party parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, said: “So if it’s ‘not about money’, why since 2014 has the share of the Norfolk NHS budget going to mental health fallen by 8.3pc? If it’s ‘not about money’, why in the last five years has at least £31.8m has gone missing from mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk?”

Commissioners, who allocate money to health services, disputed this and said more money had been put into mental health in recent years - even if not all of it had gone to NSFT.

But Ms Davis said: “NSFT’s funding has been cut by 13pc as mental health referrals have soared by 48pc in the last few years. NSFT has been the victim of some of the deepest cuts to mental health in country.”

The figures, which were taken from NSFT’s annual reports by the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, represent the difference between what funding NSFT actually received in 2016/17 and what campaigners say the trust should have received if the amount kept pace with inflation.

A spokesman for the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Norfolk and Waveney said they had “increased investment in mental health above the levels required by NHS England. This was at a time when the health and care system in Norfolk and Waveney is under severe financial pressure”. they said in 2017/18 CCGs in Norfolk and Waveney spent £177.3m on mental health services and in 2018/19, CCGs will spend £183.9m.

While a spokesman for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, added “the CCGs are recognised as having a good record on mental health spending and investment” and said investment in mental health had gone from £93m in 2014 to £115m in 2018.

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