Nick Clegg is next week expected to launch a national mental health action plan, advocating a further push towards “parity of esteem” between the sector and the rest of healthcare, HSJ has discovered.
The deputy prime minister is due to publish the document - thought to contain 25 actions and aspirations - on Monday.
It is the second major attempt by ministers to push for parity of esteem, bringing the standard of mental health services to the same level as that of physical health, following the publication of the mental health strategy in February 2011.
It is understood the document will repeat many of the expectations ministers have made on the NHS already such as new access standards and waiting time targets for mental health patients.
A source involved in discussions told HSJ: “Nick Clegg is trying to exalt more activity out of the system. It is really positive that we have someone at that sort of status standing up and talking about mental health. That wouldn’t have happened five or 10 years ago.
“There are a lot of good intentions but are they being translated into action on the ground when we see money being cut?”
The government’s mandate to NHS England, published in November 2012, said it wanted to see “measurable progress” towards parity of esteem by March 2015, but recent developments have suggested the healthcare system is moving in the opposite direction.
Earlier this week HSJ revealed mental health and community providers would face 20 per cent higher funding cuts than the acute sector.
In August 2012, HSJ revealed spending on adult mental health services had also fallen in real terms for the first time in 10 years, dropping by 1 per cent for adults and 3.1 per cent for older people in 2011-12.
A follow-up study has not been commissioned by the Department of Health but figures reported by the BBC in December suggested budgets at 43 out of 51 mental health trusts had seen cuts of more than 2 per cent.