Spending on hospital mental health services increases faster than on community care

Spending on hospital-based mental health services has increased faster than on community services despite the government’s aim to move to more community care.

A report published today by think-tank Reform found spending on inpatient, outpatient and day patients services had increased by 37 per cent, or £1.1bn, to £4.1bn from 1999-2000 to 2003-4.

But spending on community mental health services increased by only 31 per cent, or £400m, to £1.7bn in the same period.

The study found the number of short hospital stays had decreased but the number of patients who stayed for more than a year almost doubled from 1999-2000 to 2003-4.

It said the hospital treatment programme had developed as a “custodial model” rather than a health one.

The report suggested developing a mixed economy of care in cognitive behavioural therapy and the introduction of direct payments for people needing therapy in the community.

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