Mental health services have often seemed to be the lowest priority when it comes to the NHS, under successive governments. I believe this approach is fundamentally wrong: mental health needs to be considered as important as physical health.
Over the last 24 hours, I have learned of two alarming pieces of news. After a psychiatric hospital in York (Bootham Park Hospital) closed, patients were transferred to hospitals in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Durham – where services are no doubt already overstretched.
Meanwhile, demand for these services is increasing: for example, referrals to the mental health charity Mind have increased by as much as 91% in the last 12 months in Redcar and Cleveland. Of course they do a phenomenal job, but we cannot rely upon charity alone to deal with core services at a time of NHS underfunding. It’s time to give the NHS the resources it needs to make Britain a world leader in mental health.
Jonathan Arnott MEP