So, it didn’t take long for the Tories to apply the brakes to all the good work done on mental health by Norman Lamb and, before him, fellow Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow.
The Independent talks exclusively to Norman about what’s happening now he’s not there to drive things forward.
Norman Lamb, who served as the minister responsible for mental health in the Coalition government, said that vital new waiting-times targets for a range of mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and OCD “won’t happen” because the plans were not funded.
He also hit out at an NHS England decision to water down financial incentives for local health authorities to improve mental health services, and criticised “scandalously low” levels of funding for research into mental health conditions.
Mr Lamb, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson and one of the country’s leading campaigners for improved mental health services, said that “all signs” pointed to “a continuing disadvantage for those who suffer from mental illness with no prospect of it ever changing”.
He told the paper:
The Government pledged to spend £1bn extra a year on mental health by 2020 – part of the £8bn pledged to the NHS as a whole. However, Mr Lamb said he had been told this figure did not cover the implementation of the new waiting times standards.
“I asked: is this funded? The answer was no,” he said. “So essentially it won’t happen.”
“The rhetoric is good, and I think when [Health Secretary] Jeremy Hunt says he wants to continue to improve mental healthcare, he means it,” he said. “But you can’t do it without the money. When the whole of the NHS is under huge financial pressure, it is mental health that misses out.”
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