MP Julian Huppert claims the results of a year-long inquiry into the poor level of mental health care is a sad indictment of how services have been neglected for years.
Julian, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health that produced the report, has been fighting for an extra £500 million a year for mental health.
He says the cross-party inquiry’s recommendations put the onus on both national and local government to do better as a matter of urgency.
At the launch, Julian and others heard moving testimony from a young man suffering from eating disorders about how the NHS had dealt well with his physical problems but neglected his mental problems.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group allocated an extra £1.5 million to mental health services this year and a further £2.2 million from April against a backdrop of years of massive underfunding.
The county receives three per cent less than the national average despite being a fast-growing area with an ageing population. The government’s own calculations state that Cambridgeshire should receive £35 million more than it does at present.
Julian claims the CCG is making savings but it is reliant on the next government channelling much-needed investment into the NHS and meeting the recommendations of this report if substantial improvements are to be made to mental health care.
He wants an extra £8 billion to be invested in the NHS – the amount the National Health Executive claims it needs for services.
“This report is long overdue and reveals the extent of the poor provision for mental health that has been allowed to continue under successive governments,” said Julian. “This is a shameful state of affairs and it is the reason we have made mental health one of our priorities.
“The level of care that has existed for mental health patients would never have been tolerated elsewhere in the NHS and yet it has existed for years. That is why I want to see a year-on-year commitment on mental health spending in the next government so that we can put this right as a matter of urgency.
“There are a lot of people playing subtle political games over the NHS but we have been told what the NHS needs and that is what we should be providing.”
The report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health was launched in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday, March 4) by Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt.
It makes a number of recommendations including:
• a national target for reducing premature death among people with mental health problems;
• a wider range of community support services to reduce the numbers of people experiencing a mental health crisis being held in police cells;
• Mental Health Champions in all local authorities to ensure mental health is prioritised in public health strategies.
Julian added: “We have agreed an extra £2 billion worth of funding for the NHS and legislation to achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health; now we want to see that delivered. We have set minimum waiting times for patients and our Crisis Care Concordat is improving prevention and intervention.
“But we want to see a guaranteed NHS budget increasing by at least the rate of inflation, sustained investment in mental health services and increased access to talking therapies for mental health patients. This inquiry has scrutinised our mental health services – the next government must not ignore its findings if we are to see real change for patients.”