Labour challenges Cameron’s record after £1bn mental health pledge



Labour has challenged David Cameron to deliver on the recommendations of a key mental health taskforce after he pledged £1bn a year in support.

Luciana Berger, shadow Cabinet minister for mental health, said the funding, due to be in place by 2020, was necessary but called on Ministers to ensure they maintain the political will to tackle problems in NHS care.

Today Cameron unveiled the extra money in response to the report by the independent NHS taskforce on mental health which said substandard care had led to “thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths.

Labour welcomed the funding and Berger said: “If implemented in full, these changes could make a significant difference to a system which has had to contend with funding cuts and staffing shortages at a time of rising demand, leaving too many vulnerable people without the care they need.

“The real challenge will come in ensuring these recommendations are actually delivered. For too long this Tory Government’s rhetoric on mental health has not matched the reality on the ground.”

The taskforce’s report said mental healthcare currently suffered from “critical gaps” and outlined concern over rising demand for support.

Suicide rates have risen and peaked in 2014 at 4,882 deaths. The report’s recommendations included greater integration of mental services with physical healthcare, the provision of 24-hour crisis services and preventative services for young people. It also highlighted the “challenging” settlement from George Osborne’s Spending Review.

The government announcement comes after a series of Labour MPs called for Ministers to do more to tackle the crisis in mental treatment.

Jeremy Corbyn promoted Berger’s position to shadow Cabinet level and last month told Parliament:

“All of us can go through depression; all of us can go through those experiences. Every single one of us in this Chamber knows people who have gone through it, and has visited people who have been in institutions and have fully recovered and gone back to work and continued their normal life.”

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