Service spending varies greatly by region

Spending on mental health varies widely by area in England, with some regions spending 60% more than others, according to government figures.

The Department of Health figures, published in response to a parliamentary question, show mental health spending per head of adult population in 2005-6 ranged from £207 to £128 across the 28 former strategic health authority areas.

King’s Fund senior mental health policy adviser Simon Lawton-Smith said the variation could be attributed to demographic factors, data collection issues and local differences in existing provision. Only when all these factors were taken into account and the figures examined more closely would it be possible to judge whether the variations were reasonable, he added.

Meanwhile, the DH has revealed that the number of treated cases of anorexia among children has increased by almost 50% since 1997, from 419 in 1996-7 to 620 in 2005-6.

Charity YoungMinds said it was difficult to say whether the rise in anorexia admissions was explained by more services being available, GPs being better able to spot the symptoms or a rise in cases.

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 Simeon Brody

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