FINANCE: London’s mental health services are seeing a relative disinvestment while the acute sector “overheats”, according to a leaked report.

A document commissioned by London’s mental health chief executives and seen by HSJ shows mental health trusts are being disproportionately targeted for savings this financial year.

The report analysed full-year primary care trust spend across the capital between 2008-09 and 2009-10 and found there was an average increase in the acute sector of 23 per cent.

Of 30 PCTs, 23 increased their acute spending by 20 per cent or more.

In the same period, average spending on mental health increased by only 3 per cent, nearly all of which was Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies funding.

Nine PCTs saw no increase or a fall in their mental health spending, while only four increased their spending by more than 10 per cent.

Consultants Symmetric also collected figures for PCTs’ 2011-12 efficiency assumptions for mental health trusts.

These showed that nine out of 20 expected a saving of between six and 10 per cent from their mental health provider, while four expected more than 10 per cent.

A senior figure in a London mental health told HSJ: “Mental health services have always been cut hardest, first and taken the longest to recover.”

The document quotes mental health chief executives who say the data exposes the lack of a “parity of esteem” between the sectors.

It highlights concern that “the mental health sector is being disproportionately targeted for financial savings, whilst at the same time the acute sector continues to overheat and live beyond its means”.

London’s 10 mental health trusts have a combined annual income of £1.59bn.