• Mental health trusts have received 13 per cent of the total capital funding allocations so far
  • HSJ’s analysis follows calls for more capital to “upgrade” inpatient psychiatric wards

A third of mental health trusts did not bid for any capital funding through their sustainability and transformation partnership, HSJ can reveal.

Data obtained by HSJ also revealed the sector has so far received £321m through the four national capital funding waves. This was around 13 per cent of the overall amount awarded to NHS trusts, and is close to the current proportion of the NHS’ spend in mental health. 

The news that one third of mental health trusts did not submit any bids comes following recent calls from NHS England for the upcoming spending review to provide dedicated capital to “upgrade” inpatient psychiatric wards

Speaking with HSJ, one trust chief executive suggested some providers may not have submitted bids due to prioritisation by their STP. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust said it had not submitted bids yet but was lining some up for the fifth capital funding wave. 

Following a freedom of information request, HSJ received responses from 201 NHS trusts, including 51 mental health trusts. Across the 51 mental health providers, £921m in bids were made to the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Mersey Care Foundation Trust, which submitted bids worth £32m for a new low secure learning disabilities unit and £28m for a new adult inpatient unit, said: “We are disappointed not to have received the capital funding required to move forward with our plans for low secure healthcare.

“We are in continued dialogue with NHS England and we remain concerned about how this impacts on providing high quality healthcare to our service users and continued support for their families and our highly-skilled and dedicated workforce.”

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust had a £10m bid rejected, which was intended to “[address] a range of known anti-ligature, compliance and qualitative works in line with Care Quality Commission and NHS Improvement guidance”. 

The trust told HSJ the anti-ligature work is now going to be funded through its own cash reserves.

Of the bids which were awarded, £11m was allocated to two tier four child and adolescent mental health units and £13m for new psychiatric intensive care units.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said: “Although this data shows us that this investment broadly reflects the national level allocations for the sectors, it’s worth remembering mental health as a sector takes on well over 20 per cent of the ‘disease burden’ but only receives around 12 per cent of national funding. So potentially this investment falls short of need.”

She added the NHS would need to look carefully in the future to see whether or not mental health provision and services are being disadvantaged by capital allocations through STPs. 

Earlier this month, mental health lead for the CQC, Paul Lelliot, suggested a considerable amount of capital would be needed for the sector’s estate by claiming every inpatient ward should have single en-suite rooms

Speaking with HSJ, one woman who has been an inpatient in multiple NHS mental health wards described some of the environments as “prison-like”.

The patient, who asked not to be named, added: “When I’m in a distressed state everything is magnified and amplified to me, so the big heavy doors and bars made me feel like a prisoner…

“Often the inpatient wards [were] mixed sex [and] when I am unwell, I find being around men particularly difficult. 

“My belief is that everyone is there [in wards] with different needs, and whereas if you had a physical diagnosis, the cancer patient would be treated with cancer nurses, the cardiac patient with cardiac care. There are multiple mental health diagnoses, but only one form of inpatient care.”

NHS England and the DHSC have not responded to requests for comment.

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