Today’s mental health crisis created by 13 years of Tory austerity
I met the parents of a young woman in my constituency the other day. She had developed a mental health issue which led to her becoming immobilised physically.
What they told me about her treatment, or lack of it, made me so angry that I raised it in the House of Commons, during a debate about mental health treatment and support.
My constituent had been admitted to hospital the previous weekend. It did not have a mental health bed available and discharged her without a care package or any assistance.
The doctor advised she needed urgent, specialist treatment, but that she would not get it on the NHS. He recommended that she see a private practitioner.
We looked up the cost of this. Upwards of £3,000 a month - to get treatment that should be provided by any civilised government.
But we don’t have a civilised government.
The young woman returned to the family home where her parents had no choice but to leave her on her own, door locked, lying on a sofa, while they went out to work to try to earn the money to pay.
It’s a disgrace this is happening in our society.
The minister talked a good talk about their intentions to improve mental health care provision. But the truth is that under this government, NHS wages have fallen, nursing bursaries have been cut, there’s a chronic shortage of specialist mental health practitioners and thousands of mental health beds have been lost since 2010.
Yorkshire has been hardest hit. We’ve lost a quarter of mental health beds. Every one of those impacts not just on individuals but on their families and communities too.
In the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) area, there are nearly 64,000 adults and over 28,000 children on the waiting list for mental health care.
Nearly 10,000 people in a single year had their mental health treatment closed without receiving an appointment from the ICB. Scandalous.
More patients in Yorkshire than any other county have had to travel out of the area to access the mental health treatment they need. The reason most often given is a lack of beds.
Just think about that. A person with serious mental health problems being sent to some unfamiliar place, many miles from home, in order to receive treatment. It’s just not acceptable.
Meanwhile, suicide rates in West Yorkshire are above national average - a quarter more than in the rest of the country. It’s absolutely shocking.
The seed-beds of this mental health crisis of major proportions lie in the social and economic conditions created through 13 years of failed Tory austerity.
Look at Hemsworth. It is one of the most socially immobile constituencies in the country. Someone born here today will die younger than people elsewhere, often in deprivation. With so-called “levelling up the North” no more than a joke, what chance do they have?
We should not continue to put up with a system, a postcode lottery, that cruelly fails to address the mental health needs of so many people.