Bede Wing closure shows mental health services moving backwards, warns Emma

November 27, 2014

130709 - Emma Lerwell Buck MP 01 smallAt Health Questions this week Emma explained how cuts to funding for mental health services had contributed to the closure of Bede Wing mental health ward in South Shields.

Emma told the Care Minister, Norman Lamb:

“In South Shields, financial challenges have contributed to the closure of Bede wing mental health ward. This means that acute in-patient services are no longer provided in our borough. Can the Minister explain why mental health services are, in fact, being eroded under this Government?”

The Minister replied that the Government wanted to see fewer people cared for in institutions and more receiving care at home. He also said that funding for children’s mental health services had gone up. You can read Emma’s question and the Minister’s response in full by clicking here.

But the reality is that vulnerable patients who were once cared for in their community are now receiving care in Sunderland, away from their friends and family.

And funding for mental health services overall is in decline. The Coalition recently cut spending on mental health for the first time in a decade, at a time when the number of people reporting mental health issues is increasing. Both staff numbers and bed spaces are falling, and more than one in ten mental health trusts have been described by the Care Quality Commission as ‘High Risk’.

Both the Labour Leader Ed Miliband and the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham have called for mental health to be given equal status to physical health, and a Labour government in 2015 would include the right to therapies in the NHS constitution.

Labour would also invest £2.5 billion in NHS services through its Time to Care Fund, investing in 20,000 new nursing posts, including mental health nurses.

Speaking after Health Questions, Emma said:

“People should be able to receive care as close to home as possible. But our local NHS is coming under pressure because of this Government, and now patients who could once be cared for near home are having to go miles away to Sunderland.

“For all the Government’s talk, mental health services are still getting the short end of the stick when it comes to funding. We need to get serious about treating mental health, and under a Labour government mental health services would be brought into the 21st century.”

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