The chief executive of Monitor has called for a “significant reallocation of resources” towards mental health to put the service on an equal footing with physical health.

Speaking at the Foundation Trust Network conference this week, David Bennett said he accepted the differential tariff deflator imposed on mental health services in 2014-15 was “unfortunate”.

David Bennett

David Bennett said putting more money into mental health could ease pressure on hopsitals

He added that pouring extra money into mental health treatments could ease pressures on acute services but said the way mental healthcare provision was measured had to change.

“Most of the things we choose to measure are around physical care and that is where money flows to.”

On the tariff deflator, Mr Bennett said the issues around it were “to put it mildly, unfortunate and not really intended in the way it was interpreted”.

David Flory, chief executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority said in a separate speech that setting a higher tariff deflator for mental health trusts had been “clumsy”.

“We got into a right mess with the differential tariff last time, which was clumsy rather than a statement about relative value and parity,” he added.

In response to questions from conference delegates, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens accepted more needed to be done on mental health but urged the sector to avoid “the trap” of seeing waiting time targets and activity based payments as solutions.

Mr Stevens said new access standards, due to come into effect next year, and the wider parity of esteem agenda “could cost £500m over the next parliament”.