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Budget 2015: £1.25 billion boost for mental health services

Published on 20/03/15 at 10:47am
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Senior NHS figures have hit out at Chancellor George Osborne’s failure to lay out any specific plans concerning the future of the healthcare body in the 2015 UK budget.

The last budget before the election was seen as an opportunity for the government to throw its financial weight behind the NHS, after it made a series of new policy announcements.

While Osborne did confirm £1.25 billion in extra funding for mental health services, he also announced plans to make spending cuts of £30 billion by 2017 across various public sectors.

Announcing that the UK economy had grown by 2.6% in 2014, the chancellor said: “Because savings have been driven by efficiency and reform, the quality of public services has not gone down – it’s gone up. Satisfaction with the NHS is rising year on year.”

But Labour leader Ed Miliband warned that the Conservatives are planning to cut the NHS if the party wins the next election. He said that the proposed cuts are “most worrying of all for the National Health Service”.

He added: “The government won't be able to deliver those cuts so they will end up cutting the National Health Service. That is the secret plan that they are not saying today.”

The NHS Confederation, which represents more than 500 NHS providers, also hit back at the lack of policies to improve NHS funding of the NHS. The independent membership body is calling for greater public scrutiny of political plans for the health service.

Rob Webster who is the chief executive of the body, explains: “An open public debate must happen now on NHS finances. We've been calling for it for a long time and politicians from all parties cannot duck it anymore – the public simply won't allow them.

“We know this year will be tough for the NHS and the budget confirms this. Years of punishing price cuts for providers such as hospitals are taking their toll on NHS care.”

Webster did welcome the announcement of extra funding for mental health services, saying: “It’s good to see continued movement on investment in mental health. This progress will need to be accelerated if we really are going to redress the imbalance in funding between mental and physical health services.”

This further backing complements the £300 million investment already made by government earlier this year to create 29 ‘vanguard’ sites across England which includes extra support for mental health services.

Following the chancellor’s announcement of more support to SME’s and improved access to R&D tax credits, the UK BioIndustry Association’s chief executive Steve Bates, said: “It is great to see from this budget statement that treasury has listened to the BIA and its members.

“The BIA has made a continued case for ensuring that tax-advantaged schemes incentivise investment in high risk, innovative sectors such as biotech, where the wider benefits for patients and the economy are vast.”

Tom Robinson

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