This week in Westminster I was with UKIP leadership candidate Lisa Duffy as she launched her vison for the NHS and specifically Mental Health services.
The NHS is the very best of British society. It’s there when we need it, and it gives us peace of mind even when we don’t. Under Lisa’s leadership, Lisa doesn’t just want UKIP to become a party of the NHS, she wants UKIP to become the party of the NHS.
Once again, our manifesto for the health service will be rooted in our belief as a party in the ‘N’ in NHS; it is our National Health Service, not an international health service.
Lisa said: “At its best, the NHS is a partnership between professionals and their patients, not just the doctors, nurses and consultants, but the porters and cleaners too. They’re just as important and I know they’re some of the most dedicated people in our country.”
Underlying mental health issues are proving the key debilitating factor in many people’s lives.
There’s been a huge increase in the number of children and young adults who self-harm – a 68% increase in hospital admissions over the last ten years. The age at which depression is being diagnosed gets younger and younger, and three children in an average class will suffer a recognisable mental health disorder.
The figure generally quoted is one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some time in our lives. Lisa suspects that is a serious underestimate. How many of us suffer depression, addiction, eating disorders, or anxiety and battle on alone, never going to our doctor?
Mental illness has an enormous impact on the families of those who are affected. This can be almost as devastating as on the patient themselves. Families need help too, but often don’t get any.
The stigma of mental illness has kept so much suffering out of public view. It is an unseen illness with so many variants.
One key factor behind the very patchy provision for mental healthcare in the NHS is a lack of resources. It is shocking. Spending on mental health has declined in real terms since 2010. More than half of all mental health trusts are reporting cuts to their income. This must change.
When elected leader of UKIP, Lisa pledges to find an addition £1 billion to plough into Mental Health Services.
Funding streams must be innovative. Very wealthy foreign nationals buying up prime property in our country could be made to pay more into the national kitty in return for what Britain offers them. Are all corporate businesses paying a fair share of tax to fund our public realm?
Lisa will make sure too the bulk of the money comes from the richest and not from the ordinary working people who’ve endured a squeeze on their living standards for far too long.
The prize is great. We can create mental health services that swing into action at an early stage and not when patients are in acute and immediate need.
The age of the Cinderella mental health service cannot continue. It shames and harms us all. It fails the test of communal responsibility, the principle upon which the NHS itself was originally built.
Under Lisa’s leadership, UKIP can, and will, play a key role in moving mental health services to a much better place.