Mental health budget ring-fence in Wales to continue

The mentalhealth budget in Wales will continue to be protected by a ring-fence followinga Welsh Government-commissioned review, Health and Social Services MinisterMark Drakeford announced today (Monday 17 August 2015).

In 2008, thethen Welsh Government introduced arrangements to ring-fence mental healthrevenue allocations to health boards with the aim of protecting investment inmental health services. 

In 2012, theWelsh Government’s Together for Mental Health strategy reinforcedthe commitment to the continuation of the ring-fence. The delivery plan whichunderpinned the strategy also committed the Welsh Government to commissioning areview of the effectiveness of the mental health ring-fence by the end of 2015.

The Reviewof the Financial Ring-fencing Arrangements for Mental Health Services in Wales, by PricewaterhouseCoopers which was commissioned by the Welsh Government,concluded that the purpose of the ring-fence – to protect expenditure on mentalhealth services – has largely been achieved.

The reportcontains a number of recommendations aimed to better link expenditure withoutcomes.  The Welsh Government are now considering these recommendationsand will publish a further statement later in the year following discussionwith stakeholders.

In 2015-16,the Welsh Government has ring-fenced £587m for mental health services acrossWales – up from £389m in 2009-10. Earlier this year, the Minister for Healthand Social Services announced an additional £15m of new funding is being madeavailable for mental health services in Wales every year.

Health andSocial Services Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“Mental illhealth can have a significant impact on life expectancy and is a key cause ofhealth inequalities.

“One in fouradults experiences mental health problems or illness at some point during theirlifetime, while one in six of us will be experiencing symptoms at any one time.One in 10 children between the ages of five and 16 has a mental health problemand many more have behavioural issues. That’s why mental health is one of mymain priorities.

“In Wales, wespend more on mental health services than on any other part of the NHS; today’sannouncement is a further demonstration of our commitment to this vital part ofthe health service.”

Alun Thomas, Chief Executive of Welsh mental health charityHafal, said: “Hafal Members welcome the Welsh Government’s continuedcommitment to ring-fencing the mental health budget.

“The Welsh Government has ring-fenced mental health expenditureacross all age groups since 2008 with the intention of protecting mental healthexpenditure and facilitating investment in services. This has sent out a verystrong message to Health Boards that they should protect these valuableservices for a highly vulnerable group of people.

“Ring-fencingis an important protection for mental health services as it goes some waytowards dealing with the problem of mental health being the Cinderella serviceof the NHS. But we need much greater transparency on ring-fencing so thatpatients and their carers can verify that funding for mental health services isprotected as intended.”