Today I have published my third NHS Check Oldham Report – one of my top ten constituency priorities – on mental health services.
This report looks at how mental health waiting times in Oldham were some of the worst in the country for 2013/14 and analyses improvements since.
Last year, I demanded an explanation from Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for poor performance on waiting times and what action they would take to improve services for local people.
Since then waiting times have dramatically reduced and funding has increased to Pennine Care, the local mental health trust, although I continue to closely monitor improvements.
It is clear this is an area that needs local attention. In the last 18 months the number of constituents who have contacted me with problems in accessing mental health services have increased and House of Commons Library figures showed the CCG was the 7th worst in the country for waits over 90 days for psychological therapies.
Adrian White from Grotton has used local mental health services after leaving his job in 2014 suffering from depression as a result of severe workplace bullying. I met with Adrian again today (pictured) to share the report with him. Adrian told me how he knows from personal experience how important it is to get timely support for mental health issues as that’s what helped him in his recovery, put that chapter of his life behind him and get back on his feet to look for work again.
We all need to raise awareness of mental health problems and how common they are to enable us to address the stigma so many people with mental health problems face.
Labour in the House of Lords forced the Government to legislate for ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health, but the Government has categorically failed to deliver. A BBC investigation with the journal Community Care published on 20th March showed that Mental Health Trusts have had their budgets cut by 8% in real terms, that’s the equivalent of £600m being taken from mental health services.
There are also hundreds fewer mental health doctors and thousands fewer mental health nurses compared to 2010. We have seen key prevention and early intervention services stripped back, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Early Intervention in Psychosis Services and Sure Start services. And this has led to greater pressures on the NHS, including a growing number of young people being placed in adult wards, and many sent hundreds of miles for hospital care as a result of bed shortages.
Labour will bring together physical health, mental health and social care into a single system of whole-person care that will also ensure mental health problems get picked up and treated, and will place mental health at the heart of the future system.
In addition, in Government we will set out a strategy and timetable to deliver a waiting‐time standard of 28 days for access to talking therapies, for both adults and children, and to ensure that all children have access to school‐based counselling or therapy if they need it.
Click here to read the full report.