Councillors expressed anger and frustration with the NHS after it was revealed that almost half a million pounds will be taken from the borough due to financial mismanagement by a neighbour.

The concerns centred on a decision by NHS England to take £480,000 from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in Thurrock to help pay a deficit of more than £140million incurred by the CCG that oversees Cambridge and Peterborough.

The council’s chair of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Labour councillor Victoria Holloway, said at a meeting: “The improvement of mental health services is one of our most important pieces of work. All members sitting here should be pushing for this.

“This is one bit of work that has been put at risk as a result of NHS England’s decision to take money from Thurrock CCG and others in the region to prop up a massive overspend by Cambridge and Peterborough CCG.

“I’m told Cambridge’s CCG has a platinum service. We on the other hand are trying to work hard to deliver services while managing to balance our budget.

“NHS England will be taking £480,000 to prop up a platinum service in Cambridgeshire while residents in Thurrock sit on waiting lists to get treatment for their mental health. How is this acceptable? How much will they take from our residents next time?”

She said she would be asking NHS England to attend the next scrutiny committee where the decision will be questioned.

Conservative Councillor James Halden, who oversees health within the borough, said: “In terms of adolescent mental health, that money is ring-fenced and no one is getting their hands on it. In terms of adult mental health reconfiguration, the phasing will change slightly so the roll-out is going to be a couple of months delayed.

“This is what happens when politicians from all parties spend decades demanding the NHS gets more money and don’t hold it to account. We have to balance our budget every year by statute, the NHS doesn’t.

“That is why groups like Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are allowed to run outrageous deficits and we eventually have to muck in.”

Councillor Luke Spillman, leader of Thurrock Independents, said: “I started my career working in mental health services. Throughout my career I dealt with thousands of people at varying stages of development of mental illnesses. I am absolutely disgusted and enraged by this decision.”

He added that early intervention is key when dealing with mental health issues and the NHS decision is “devastating”.

Following the meeting, Councillor Holloway said any delay is “unacceptable”.

She said: “Two months is an eternity when you are in crisis. It may not seem long but it can be life and death.”