On January 31st I spoke in a debate on the NHS Long Term Plan, which was published in January . While I think there is much to welcome in the plan I also express my worries over areas the plan is silent on. You can read my speech in this debate here and watch the debate here.
One area I particularly worry about is whether the NHS will be able to recruit the workforce to deliver the Long Term Plan. For example, we will need to find over 20,000 extra mental health staff in order to achieve the goal that 100% of children with mental health will be able to access treatment over the next decade. This is why I questioned the government over whether it would fund a “Mental Health” careers campaign aimed at secondary school and University Students to help plug this hole. You can watch me ask this question here and read it in Hansard here.
“However, there is also much to worry about—mainly things about which the plan is silent. The NHS does not operate in isolation, and I am concerned—like many other noble Lords—that many of the laudable aims of the plan are being directly undermined by cuts elsewhere to public health and social care budgets.”
On the 31st January 2019, I joined young people and mental health experts from leading charity, Action for Children, to support the parliamentary launch of Build Sound Minds – a campaign to help children and teenagers build good mental and emotional wellbeing.
It is clear that Children’s Mental Health support needs radically improving. According to Action for Children, a third of 15 to 18-year-olds they assessed were found to be suffering from mental health issues. Pupils in need of support have been taking part in the Blues Programme, the first ever UK-wide early help intervention for teenage depression. Given my work on Children and Young People’s Mental Health, I was
Ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 February), I pledged support for the charity’s campaign, which aims to improve children and teenagers’ mental health by providing families with accessible information, tools and tips. To find out more about the campaign, you can visit their website here or follow them on Twitter at @actnforchildren.
On the 21st of January 2019, I spoke in a debate on a recent report by the social metrics commission, which has developed a new measure of poverty. I was very pleased that this measure of poverty takes into account the total resources of an individual instead of simply focusing on income as many previous measures have. This is why I have encouraged the Government to adopt this measure as their official measure of Poverty.
You can read my speech here and watch me speak on parliament live here.
“The measurement of poverty has for too long been a hot potato, with too much time being given to arguing about how and whether to measure poverty and not enough time devoted to taking action to reduce it … I hope that this measure is adopted by political parties and campaigners, but above all by the Government as their official measure of poverty, so that they can put in place meaningful policies to reduce poverty and address the plight of those who suffer from it.”
To mark Children’s Mental Health Week, I wanted to reflect on the work I have been doing recently to highlight the battle many young people face to access mental health support.
On the 30th of January, I led a dinner hour debate on the topic of what assessment the Government has made of the recent concerns expressed by general practitioners that children and young people with mental health problems are unable to access National Health Service treatments; and what steps they will take to address them. I arranged this debate following a recent article in the Guardian, which revealed that a staggering 99% of GPs feared that under-18s would come to harm as a direct result of delays in their mental health care. You can read my speech from this debate here or watch it on parliament live here.
I have also been blogging about the worrying delays to children’s mental health treatment in Politics Home and the Lib Dem Voice.
“Seventy years after the creation of the NHS, families should not be forced to pay for the mental health care that their children so desperately need.”