What can be done to reduce the waiting time for access to mental health services in the region of Kent?
By Mike Eddy, Green Party Councillor for Mill Hill, Deal
Mind the mental health charity said in 2018 that NHS England should introduce a maximum four-week waiting time for Psychological Therapies (IAPT) care.
Kent MPs were told in June last year that 1,481 children in the county have been waiting 18 weeks for treatment, 144 of them for over 52 weeks.
Since 2017, North East London NHS Foundation Trust have taken over Kent Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. It is similar for older patients.
It is ridiculous to blame the professionals of the NHS which has been fragmented and run-down by Conservative politicians since they passed the Health and Social Care Act in 2012, and paved the way to privatising health services.
In my case work as a councillor, it is apparent that the ever-widening inequalities in our society contribute to mental health problems and impede recovery. Evidence from the House of Commons library shows, “Poorer people were less likely to recover as a result of treatment under the IAPT programme than the better-off”, and the disabled and minorities also have lower levels of recovery.
What can be done?
- The NHS needs to be taken back into public ownership so that profiteering corporates with friends in government stop taking their cut from funding.
- We need serious long-term investment in the mental health services of the NHS so that we turn round the problem of understaffing (nurses and doctors). This would also free up our police who are called in time and again across Kent to help ill people who become a danger to themselves or others.
- We need some joined-up thinking between the Dept of Work and Pensions, answerable for Universal Credit and the Dept for Health and Social Care because we see increases in referrals for mental health services following the introduction of Universal Credit.