Psychologists’ survey highlights NHS mental health fun...

Psychologists’ survey highlights NHS mental health funding crisis

10 October 2016

Mental health services are reeling from a funding crisis, low morale and increased workloads, says a survey of NHS applied psychologists released today (Monday 10 October) by Unite, the country’s largest union.

Unite’s survey coincides with today’s World Mental Health Day against a background of broken promises from health secretary Jeremy Hunt on mental health funding and a time when 25 per cent of UK adults suffer mental health problems in any one year.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “Our survey of our NHS applied psychologists is another ‘wake-up’ call that mental health services in the UK are reeling from a perfect storm of budget cuts, low morale and increased – and unsustainable – workloads, which impact adversely on patient care.

“Jeremy Hunt needs to address the funding crisis to deliver a well- qualified and trained workforce, better leadership and an end of practices that cause stress, fear and, ultimately, lead to highly qualified professionals departing the NHS, at a time when their skills are needed more than ever as mental health waiting lists get longer and longer.”

Chair of Unite’s applied psychologists professional committee Antony Vassalos added: “What applied psychologists across the UK are saying, loud and clear, is that they are being worn down by changes and major cuts in their services which are definitely not in the interest of patients, leading, as the survey shows, to increased stress at work and poor morale within the profession." 

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • 96 per cent of respondents believe the government's current public sector pay policy is unfair 
  • 81 per cent said their workloads have increased either a little or a lot over the past 12 months 
  • 35 per cent have seriously considered leaving their NHS posts in the past 12 months. 
  • 73 per cent said that over the past 12 months their morale was worse or a lot worse 
  • 77 per cent frequently or always work more than their contracted working hours and often those extra hours are worked unpaid 

Last month, Freedom of Information requests revealed that Jeremy Hunt was failing to meet his pledge to boost mental health funds with more than half of the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) saying they will have to reduce mental health spending in this financial year.


Notes to editors:

Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behaviour and experience.

Unite is the leading union for applied psychologists in the NHS with more than 6,000 members across the various professions. 

The survey of Unite members covered those who are applied professionals working in the NHS as clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, and trainee and assistant psychologists.

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organisation. On this day, each October, thousands of supporters observe an annual awareness programme to bring attention to mental Illness and its major effects on people’s lives worldwide.

According to the Mental Health Foundation: ‘One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any year. This can have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK, and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work, or just get through the day. The economic cost to the UK is £70 to £100 billion a year.’

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.