Adult mental health care may lose out to children’s services as the NHS seeks to make cuts and meet government priorities, mental health leaders are warning.
It is feared that the emphasis on early intervention with young people in the government’s mental health strategy could result in adult care missing out.
The warning came from Claire Barcham, national co-ordinator of the Approved Mental Health Professionals leads network, and Steve Shrubb, director of NHS providers body the Mental Health Network.
This is at a time when the NHS as a whole must save £20bn from 2011 to 2015 against a £100bn annual budget in England.
The claims come amid mounting concerns among social workers about the impact of mental health cuts on care quality and workload, following news that some trusts were planning or projecting job cuts of 15%.
“Intervening early for children with mental health problems has been shown not only to reduce health costs but also to realise even larger savings from improved educational outcomes and reduced unemployment and crime,” said the mental health strategy, published earlier this month.
Barcham and Shrubb said this was likely to favour child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs).
“The emphasis is there [on Camhs] and they’ve talked about releasing money into early intervention and to support people better at the outset because we know it works,” said Barcham. “But it might mean people in long-term social care or in crisis may find it more difficult to get the services they are used to in the future.”
Shrubb added: “The majority of mental health problems happen below the age of 14.” He said there was a good case for maintaining funding in Camhs “because otherwise you will get more serious problems that will cost more”.
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