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Fall in mental health funding

Funding for many aspects of NHS mental health care has decreased over the past year, with some patient services being adversely affected, a new survey has revealed.

In a survey of UK doctors working in psychiatric services, just over half (52%) of respondents said there had been a decrease in the overall funding for mental health services.

The area most affected in the past year has been in-patient care, the survey by the BMA's psychiatry committee indicates.

Funding for day services, continuing care, and community mental health teams have also seen decreases, with respondents reporting the reason for this being that mental health was not seen as a priority area.

Respondents said that cuts in funding have led to a reduction in the number of in-patient beds and some patients being admitted to inappropriate wards, or being discharged before they have been adequately accessed.

Other adverse impacts included not enough clinical or nursing staff, lack of beds, and delays in implementing patients' care.

"These results show worrying trends," said Dr JS Bamrah, chairman of the BMA's Psychiatry Committee.

"We have known for some time that mental health services are often at the bottom of the pile. Despite record spending in the NHS it appears that psychiatry remains a Cinderella speciality."

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