Patricia Hewitt has pledged that mental health trusts will no longer have to 'bail out the overspenders' in the acute sector.

The health secretary told Mind's conference in Bournemouth last Wednesday that raiding the budgets of mental health trusts was 'completely unfair'.

She said: 'We've had a situation for far too long where a minority of organisations, generally acute trusts, have overspent.

'Other parts of the service or the country, often with greater health needs but managing their budgets better, have had to bail out the overspenders.'

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer told HSJ: 'Patricia Hewitt was quite honest about the commitment to mental health and the need to ensure trusts don't get penalised as a result of poor spending in the NHS.

'This is the first time a secretary of state has talked about mental health for a very long time. John Reid said nothing at all and Alan Milburn said very little about it.'

However he did warn that 'the ability to deliver change on the ground is often quite different from national policy'.