A record of ‘short-termism’ and ‘salami slicing’ by government minsters risks the implementation of today’s (Monday 15 February) report by the independent taskforce on mental health - ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’ - warned Britain’s largest union, Unite.
Responding to the report, Unite which represents over 100,000 members in health, including mental health nurses, pointed to figures published by the BBC which were obtained through Freedom of Information requests.
The figures showed that budgets for mental health trusts fell by two per cent from 2013/14 to 2014/15 leading the union to accuse the government of promising money to solve a problem of its own making.
While welcoming the report’s pledges on perinatal and postnatal care, Unite warned that cuts elsewhere and a ‘hollowing’ out of local support to mums could undermine much of the report and its pledge to give at least 30,000 more women a year access to specialist services.
Public health is facing a massive £361 million of cuts by 2017 as children’s centres, which provide a vital point of wrap-around support for families and children have been cut - most notably in Oxfordshire, promoting protests from prime minister David Cameron’s mother and aunt.
Dave Munday Unite professional officer for health said: “This far sighted report risks being undermined by the short-termism of the government and its salami slicing to areas which support and act as a gateway to people accessing mental health services.
“The promise of funding for mental health is welcome, but with cuts to public health, children’s services and third sector mental health providers, the fear is that it simply won’t be enough to address a history of underfunding and cuts.
“Mental health workers are working under considerable pressure to deliver the best service and help they can. They need to be confident that the cycle of robbing ‘Peter to pay Paul’ and then giving a little bit back will end.
“The prime minister and his government need to fulfil the broken promises of the past on mental health and implement this report in full, otherwise mental health will continue to be the ‘Cinderella’ of the health service.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.