Ministers are likely to miss their target of increasing the number of mental health staff by 21,000 by 2020, figures reveal.
NHS workforce figures obtained by Labour show that a year after the government made the pledge, mental health trusts in England had employed just 1,524 extra personnel.
In July 2017, the then health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the recruitment of 21,000 extra personnel, including psychiatrists, mental health nurses and therapists, would help the NHS treat one million more people with mental health problems by 2020-21 and provide 24/7 care.
NHS Digital figures show that in August 2017 mental health trusts employed 179,333 staff. That number had risen to 180,858 by August last year, according to the figures reported by the Guardian.
Barbara Keeley, the shadow mental health minister, who highlighted the statistics, said: “This government’s failure to act on the mental health workforce crisis could threaten to turn the burning injustice of mental ill-health that the prime minister pledged to tackle into a raging inferno.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the NHS spent almost £12bn on mental health in 2017-18.
“But we want to go further, which is why the prime minister has made parity between physical and mental health a priority for our long-term plan for the NHS supported by at least an additional £2bn a year,” the spokesperson added.