“The report published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) rightly recognises that, while the government’s waiting time targets for people suffering mental ill-health are welcome, their sustainability will be difficult given the financial pressures on the NHS. The government pledged £120 million to improve access and waiting times over 2014-15 and 2015-16 but this money is neither ring-fenced nor delivered to mental health Trusts in full, meaning the majority of the funding will have to come from already fragile budgets.
“NHS England recommends that all acute hospitals provide a liaison psychiatry service available 24-hours a day seven days a week. The NAO finds that only 7% of acute hospitals across England provide services meeting this criteria. The Cavendish Square Group is proud that in London the vast majority of our acute hospitals already meet or exceed this service expectation, however the figure across the country remains worryingly low and we are aware that the ‘vast majority’ is not the same as ‘all’.
“Liaison psychiatry is just one example of how collaborative working between acute trusts and dedicated mental health services can provide genuine continuity of care and fast access to appropriate services for patients. We are committed to building the case for greater investment in these services in order to level-up services across London.
“The government’s direction of travel has been clear - to attain parity of esteem between mental and physical heath - but as today’s report shows, unless there is proper support and funding this vital ambition will be difficult to achieve.”