Mental health workers are struggling under unsustainable workloads, an NHS watch-dog has found.
Unite called for better funding for mental health services to deal with the issue, with Labour blaming the “austerity obsessed Tory government” for pilling significant pressure on staff.
The Care Quality Commission report investigated social care and mental health services in England during the last year and found that although care standards have not dropped significantly, staff are being overwhelmed following years of cuts to services.
There has been an increase in the number of patients suffering from mental stress being treated at acute and emergency hospitals because of a lack of access to community-based mental health services, the report said.
Responding to the report, shadow minister for social care and mental health Barbara Keeley said major investment is needed to fix the “deep holes” in the health and care system.
She said, “Repeated hammer blows to health and care services from this austerity-obsessed Tory government has led to unsafe mental health wards, social care ‘deserts’ and emergency departments which have become overwhelmed.
“It’s time the Tories stopped tinkering around the edges and followed Labour’s lead by investing an additional £8bn in social care services and by increasing and ring-fencing mental health budgets, so funding reaches the front line.”
Unite lead professional officer Dave Munday said rocketing demand for services and a decline in the number of mental health nurses have combined with Tory cuts to mental health services and NHS funding more generally to create an “unsustainable” situation.
He said, “The system is buckling under the strain and mental health professionals are struggling to cope. Theresa May has made a song and dance about improving mental health services, but until her words are backed up with funding things will only continue to get worse.
“One of the reasons that people are still receiving decent care is the care and compassion with which staff in mental health services treat patients. There are however limits to how far these staff can stretch themselves and in some cases this limit has been reached.”