The Chancellor will use the Budget today to set out the first stage of the NHS’s long-term plan to achieve “parity of care” between physical and mental health. The extra cash will help pay for the provision of “comprehensive” mental health support in every major NHS A&E department, ensuring anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can get rapid specialist help.
Officials say it will be backed up with more mental health ambulances and the establishment of dedicated mental health teams in schools, linking them to other support services.
Callers to NHS 111 will be directed to support services 24 hours a day and there will be greater access to services in the community, such as “crisis cafes” where people can get help without going to A&E.
The additional funding forms part of the extra £20bn-a-year by 2023 for the NHS in England which Theresa May announced in June.
For Labour, shadow health minister Barbara Keeley expressed scepticism about the promise of extra funding.
“If this announcement is simply money that’s already been promised, it will do little to relieve the severe pressures on mental health services that have built up because of this Tory Government’s relentless underfunding of the NHS,” she said.
“People with mental health conditions cannot afford to wait five years for meaningful action from this Government: too many are already waiting many months to access the treatment.”
The announcement follows the government’s five-year NHS funding settlement made in June 2018. The NHS has now committed to increasing mental health funding as a share of the overall budget over the next 5 years. Further work is underway on mental health as part of the NHS long-term plan.
Meanwhile, Mr Hammond is also set to announce a £60 million pledge to plant more trees to help preserve the country’s environment.
England’s green spaces will receive a multimillion-pound boost in the Chancellor’s Budget.
Two pots of cash will be unveiled including £10 million for new trees in streets and urban areas, to be matched by funding contributions from local authorities, community groups and charities, the Treasury said.
On top of this, up to £50 million will be available to purchase carbon credits from landowners who plant qualifying woodland, providing for an estimated 10 million new trees over the next 30 years, the Department added.
It follows the launch of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan at the start of the year. The Budget is also expected to approve a study into a new “Great Thames Park” in the Thames Estuary.