Government blooper on number of mental health workers

The minister in charge of public health has admitted making false claims about an increase in the number of NHS mental health workers.

In an original statement, MP Jeremy Hunt incorrectly announced that the Government now has “30,000 more people working in mental health today” than it had when Labour left office.

He repeated the statement on more than one occasion.

But it later emerged that he had inflated the actual number by around 43 times. After an investigation, carried out by Channel 4’s Factcheck, the Government admitted they were wrong, saying there had been an “error”.

Indeed, the number he had cited did refer to medical professionals, but across all departments in the NHS, not just those who worked in mental health.

A Government spokesperson said the numbers would be corrected within the week.

Around 80,000 staff currently work full time in the NHS’s mental health division, an increase of around 700 people in the last seven years.

The number of mental health nurses actually dropped during the same period, by around 5,000.

Mark Dayan, a policy and public affairs analyst at the Nuffield Trust, told FactCheck: “While basically a simple error, this does highlight that actually mental health has largely been left out of even the slow expansion seen in other NHS staff groups.

“As with many areas of the NHS, staffing is as much of a problem as funding but can be overlooked.

“If the Government wants to make rhetoric about improving mental health a reality, they will need to address longstanding issues here, such as the failure to get enough junior doctors to go into psychiatry.”

Share this article:Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn