The NHS is the envy of the world, but our mental health service is not. Waiting times are being missed, people are not being referred for the treatment they need, and often action is taken only when at ‘crisis’ point, or too late.
Anyone could need support for their mental health, at any time. For too many, treatment is a postcode lottery; with waiting times sometimes in the hundreds-of-days.
Liberal Democrats will give the NHS and social care services the necessary funding by putting a penny in the pound on income tax. Ringfencing funding for mental health will give a cash injection of £11bn fund over the next Parliament putting more investment into services such as:
- child and adolescent mental health,
- matching waiting time standards to those in physical health,
- and expanding our mental health workforce
Making mental health services accessible to all is fundamental, and no one should be forced to travel unreasonable distances away from home. By prioritising young people coming out of care, and supporting students from school through to colleges and universities, it is possible to ensure that no one will have to travel out of area for all but the most specialist mental health services.
Providing real parity between mental and physical health care is critical. We want to make prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions available for free on the NHS, as is the case for conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
On the party’s plans to overhaul mental health services, Liberal Democrat PPC for Birmingham Ladywood, Lee Dargue said:
“In government, Liberal Democrats changed the law to make the NHS give equal status to mental health, as with physical health diagnoses and treatment. After the Lib Dems left government, the Conservatives didn’t fund the services properly, so this was never fulfilled.
“Anyone, at any time, could find a need to support with their mental health, including the most severe needs when someone enters a crisis situation. Young people especially need much better support, in schools and the community as well as in healthcare settings.
“By properly funding mental health services, and then ring-fencing that spending, Liberal Democrats will continue the work we started. We will also offer free prescriptions those with chronic mental health conditions, and work to end the scandal of people being sent hundreds of miles, away from their home, simply to seek treatment.
“I pay tribute to the departing MP Norman Lamb, and the Lib Dems Shadow Secretary for Health & Social Care Spokesperson, Luciana Berger, who have a fantastic record on working to improve mental health services.
“Liberal Democrats want to build a brighter future. Part of this brighter future will be to continue our work in breaking the stigma around mental health and mental ill health and offering support to those who need it.”
The Liberal Democrats will put 1p on income tax from April 2020, with the revenue ringfenced for the NHS and social care.
This is forecast to raise £35.1 billion over the next five years, Liberal Democrats will ringfence £11.2 billion of that money for mental health services, over 30% of money raised.