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Mental Illness: Carers

Department of Health written question – answered on 4th March 2016.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Mental Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will estimate the monetary value of (a) unpaid care provided to people with mental health issues and (b) the support to these carers by the NHS in each of the last five years.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, the report of the independent Mental Health Taskforce, was published by NHS England on 15 February 2016. The report includes details of an analysis commissioned by NHS England which found that the national cost of dedicated mental health support and services totals £34 billion. It also noted that if all hours of care provided by unpaid carers to people with mental health issues were instead provided by paid staff, the cost would be approximately £14 billion (this is included in the £34 billion total).

The Taskforce report is available at:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2015/09/fyfv-mental-hlth-taskforce.pdf

Separately, a 2013 report by the Office of National Statistics valued informal care provided in the United Kingdom at £61.7 billion per year (as an output of household production), although it is not possible to identify within this unpaid care specifically provided to people with mental health issues.

The Government recognises the invaluable contribution made by unpaid carers and the importance of supporting them in their caring roles. We have also made an additional £400 million available to the National Health Service between 2011 and 2015 to provide carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities to sustain them in their caring role. The equivalent annual allocation of £130 million for carers breaks is now included in the Better Care Fund.

In May 2014, NHS England published its action plan NHS England – Commitment to carers, it includes a series of commitments around eight priorities. NHS England launched new commissioning guidelines in December 2014 entitled Commissioning for Carers: Principles and resources to support effective commissioning for adult and young carers.

NHS support represents only one form of Government support for carers. We continue to support the improved rights for carers enshrined in the Care Act 2014. This includes a right to an assessment on the appearance of needs for support that will look at a carer’s wellbeing in their own right and what support they may need in their caring role. The Department has provided £104 million of funding to local authorities for these rights in 2015/16.

The Department is also leading the development of a new cross-Government National Carers Strategy that will look at what more we can do to support existing carers and those of the future.

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