Government In ‘Conspiracy Of Silence’ Over Mental Health, Say Lib Dems
Lib Dem health spokesman says political parties are refusing to talk about unacceptable state of mental health services.
The Liberal Democrats today condemned the “conspiracy of silence” over poor mental health care in the NHS.
The Lib Dem health spokesman, Norman Lamb, told delegates at the party conference in Bournemouth that the parlous conditions found on many psychiatric wards would never be tolerated in general hospital wards.
Delegates backed a motion pledging to end mixed-sex wards in mental health hospitals and called for an “absolute prohibition” on youngsters being forced to receive treatment alongside adults.
People suffering from mental health problems should be entitled to the same level of care as people suffering from physical conditions, said Lamb.
“There is almost a conspiracy of silence from political parties and from the media in simply refusing to talk about the unacceptable state of our mental health services,” he said.
“The state of many of our in-patient mental health wards is intolerable,” he added. “They are dreadful. Hidden from public view, they would never be tolerated if they were in our local general hospital.”
In a reference to the Lib Dem’s commitment to introduce tax cuts out of public spending savings, Lamb added that improving mental health services could be achieved without adding to the NHS bill.
He told delegates: “I know that this is a spending commitment but be very clear, these demands have to be achieved within the £100bn that we spend on the NHS. In a civilised society nothing else will do.”
The conference also backed an amendment from MP Evan Harris imposing a three-month time limit on the wait for NHS mental health treatment, after which the patient would qualify to have private care paid for.
Harris said: “Mental health has been neglected and overlooked, it has been the Cinderella service and waiting times for treatment – if it’s available at all – have been far too long.”