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02.11.15

Norman Lamb and 200 other senior figures start campaign for greater mental health funding

More than 200 high-profile figures, including former mental health minister Norman Lamb MP and Turning Point’s Lord (Victor) Adebowale, a member of NHE’s editorial board, have joined a campaign to persuade the government to increase investment in mental health services.

Campaigners wrote an open letter to the government ahead of the Spending Review to urge ministers to treat mental health equally with physical health by improving access to its services.

They accepted that this will require extra investment, but argued that sustained funding in mental health services can lead to significant returns by reducing the burden on the NHS and helping people to stay in work.

The campaigners cited figures showing that mental ill-health can add cost pressures as high as £100bn per year on visits to the A&E, lost jobs, unemployment benefits, homelessness and police time.

“So the economic argument for a new approach is clear. And so is the human and moral argument. Because ministers have also accepted that whatever improvements in attitude may have been made in British society, with a greater understanding and awareness of mental ill health, those who experience it still do not get a fair deal from our health services.

“In effect, they suffer discrimination in our publicly-funded NHS. This must be addressed,” the campaign website said.

Signees highlighted “just 10” of the several concerns pervasive in mental health services, including lack of access to treatment, no guidelines around new waiting time ceilings, bed shortages, police detainment, racial discrimination and inadequate funding.

The letter also included figures like chair of the NHS Providers, former health secretary Ken Clarke MP, several royal college presidents and chairs, foundation trust chiefs, MPs, former Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, as well as charity heads, actors, bishops and psychologists.

Lamb told the Guardian that he did not intend to blame Whitehall, but said there is now “growing recognition” of mental ill health and the need to address it.

“I wanted to make sure I could find a way of maintaining pressure to achieve equality for people suffering from mental ill health. I feel very strongly about this issue, in part because of family experience. I feel driven to overcome this historic injustice. In essence, it’s basically discrimination t the heart of the NHS.

“This government could, if it chose to, deliver a very proud achievement by 2020.”

Campbell also noted:  “Mental health is an issue whose time has come. That we have gathered in a matter of a few days so many voices calling for equality with physical health is the latest sign of that. The cultural depth and political breadth of people making that call cannot be ignored.

“In addition to making the human case for a new approach, I think we can persuade the government of the economic case too. The Spending Review is the opportunity for the government to show that they understand this.”

Comments

Bryan Hall   02/11/2015 at 15:28

Well done Norman Lamb please keep up the persuassive arguments. Integrated Neighbourhood Care & Health can also help towards improved Mental Health Care.

Edward   03/11/2015 at 19:23

I was #dimissed for #misconduct after disclosing my #mhissues with #biomedcentral http://holybatsex.com/2015/07/07/the-equality-act-2010-the-capability-policy-and-depression-in-the-workplace/

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