Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) should be equally focused on mental health as they are on physical health said Norman Lamb.
Norman Lamb, the health minister for the party and former social care minister under the coalition, said that CCGs under pressure to save money often cut mental health budgets first.
He made these comments after a Freedom of Information request sent by the party to 58 mental health trusts in England revealed that 8139 serious mental health incidents occurred in 2014-15. This compares with 6074 in 2012-13 and 7345 in 2013-14, an increase of 31%. The Liberal Democrats have said that the figures revealed a lack of focus on mental health services, in favour of physical healthcare.
‘The clinical commissioning groups should be equally focused on mental health as well as physical health,’ said Mr Lamb. ‘At the moment whenever they feel under pressure to cut budgets, it’s the unprotected mental health services that get sliced.’
Of the serious incidents, there were 1714 unexpected deaths, an underlying increase of 20%, while there were 751 suicides – up 22% from 2012-13.
‘Year after year the problem occurs, and year after year the problem gets worse. This cannot continue any longer,’ added Mr Lamb ‘People are literally dying as a result of the horrific under funding. People are losing their lives as a consequence of the institutional discrimination of mental health. The way that funding gets allocated to mental health always means that it loses out.’