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Oxfordshire residents urged to fight mental health underfunding

OXFORDSHIRE’S 700,000 residents were urged today to fight against “serial underfunding” of their mental health services.

Unite called on the county to lobby their six MPs about consistent underspending by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG spent far below the national average of 13.9 per cent of its commissioning budget on mental health services in the past year, the union said.

In the process, it fell far short of “parity of esteem” — a principle enshrined in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that mental health must be given equal priority to physical health.

Health union Unite warned in July 2018 that Oxfordshire was facing “severe and sustained” cuts to mental health services that would hit the county hard.

The union is calling for a “protest postcard” campaign to force Oxfordshire’s MPs into fighting for these services and it urged local commissioners to increase spending in mental health services such as psychotherapy.

Unite regional officer Jesika Parmar said: “Oxfordshire CCG ranks in the bottom half of national spending on mental health — it is a serial and persistent under-funder.

“We need to reverse this alarming trend to avoid the nightmare scenario of mentally ill people falling through the care net.

“Otherwise a significant proportion of people with severe problems may no longer get specialist help, such as those suffering from the aftermath of childhood trauma, or military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Oxfordshire CCG told the Star it “recognises that the proportion of spend on mental health services should increase and we are working together with partners both locally and nationally to find solutions.

“We will make this a key area of focus for our county’s health and care system over the next year.”

 

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