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  • Mental Health Unit Campaign
    Article: Oct 18, 2017
    By John Castle in Medway Messenger

    In 2013 the Secretary of State for Health closed the Mental Health Unit in Medway Maritime Hospital. This decision was short-sighted and Medway Liberal Democrats are campaigning to reinstate a unit in Medway. We have already gathered over 600 signatures both online and through a series of Street Stalls across Medway.
    For our campaign to succeed we need to take this foundation and move onwards from here. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have come forward already to sign the petition and share their stories of how the closure has affected their lives and those close to them. We would also like to thank health care professionals who have signed the petition, these are people who do fantastic work and are acknowledging that local provision of mental health treatment facilities are very much needed in Medway and it is no longer acceptable to transfer patients out of area.
    We would very much like to hear more stories and collect enough signatures to show the Department of Health that while the Sustainability and Transformation Plan says many things about Mental Health, it comes up short of providing treatment facilities. Prevention is a fine thing, but Medway has a large population and needs local provision of mental health services.

  • Article: Oct 14, 2017
    By Vince Cable

    I am proud to lend my support to National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which serves as an important reminder that the tenets of hate, division and prejudice have no place in 21st century Britain.

    Everyone has the right to be who they are, without fear of abuse, intimidation or violence. Our nation is a rich tapestry of different identities and the mosaic of people that make up our communities is to be praised and celebrated. It is our duty to ensure that every person, regardless of race, religion, sex, sexuality, nationality, age or disability, is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We must destroy the toxic, far-right rhetoric, which does nothing but divide our communities; such views are entirely incompatible with the core values of our country.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2017

    Prescribing rates for a valium-like drug linked to 111 deaths in a year vary widely across England, BBC analysis suggests. Monthly spending on prescriptions containing pregabalin was 88% higher in the North East and 83% higher in the North West than in London. Experts say there needs to be more research into why the disparities exist.

  • Article: Oct 13, 2017

    I have just appointed my first team of principal spokespeople since becoming leader this summer.

    I am fortunate to lead such a great, gender-balanced team, which is comprised of the most talented and promising politicians in the House of Commons and battle-hardened, experienced campaigners. The team includes notable strength in depth on the economy, foreign affairs and local government at a time when the impact of Brexit, social inequality and lack of investment is fostering tensions in these areas.

  • Article: Oct 11, 2017

    It could be "impossible" for 70% of Wales and Border trains to meet new disability regulations by 2020, a report has warned. The assembly's petitions committee calls the timescale for meeting the target "extremely daunting".

    Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates said all passenger needs would be "fully addressed" in a new rail franchise.

  • Article: Oct 11, 2017
    By Alan Marshall

    AWARENESS of mental health problems has increased dramatically in recent years, partly due to high profile celebrities speaking out about their experiences, but also as a result of national and local campaigns to reduce the stigma. Recently however, there have been discussions around whether these campaigns are actually doing more harm than good.

  • Article: Oct 11, 2017

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has used World Mental Health Day to call on the Scottish Government to urgently replace the Suicide Prevention Strategy which expired more than nine months ago.

    Scotland's Suicide Prevention strategy expired at the end of 2016 and has yet to be replaced. Recent figures showed that there were 728 suicides in Scotland in 2016 - an increase of 8% compared to 2015.

  • Article: Oct 11, 2017

    On World Mental Health Day, local MP Tim Farron has submitted an Early Day Motion to the House of Commons, condemning the removal of certain overnight mental health workers in Cumbria.

    Just last week it was announced that plans, drawn up by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to withdraw mental health psychiatrists who work between 8pm and 9am was being delayed until January. But new information leaked to Tim Farron has revealed that the plans will now roll into action from the beginning of next week.

  • Article: Oct 11, 2017
    By Stephen Lloyd MP

    Mental Health Awareness Day

    October 10th - World Mental Health Day:

    I met Eastbourne's bi-polar support group recently and was enormously impressed with the support and encouragement they provide each other. Being bi-polar is a challenge - bit of an English understatement that - and the group emphasised to me just how valuable and supportive they find it, being able to meet regularly with others who live with the same illness.

  • Norman Lamb (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Oct 11, 2017
    By Norman Lamb MP in The Independent
    Additional funding secured by the Lib Dems in the last coalition Budget - £1.25bn over five years - is not all being delivered.

    If governing was all about making the right noises, Theresa May would be an exceptional Prime Minister. For instance, she hit upon the crisis in social housing and promised action. We all applauded. And then found out that her actual response to this national emergency was to build 5,000 houses, dismissed by an independent expert as "chicken feed".

    So too, sadly, with mental health, which as a Liberal Democrat health minister in the coalition I tried to push to the top of the political agenda. Recently the Prime Minister declared: "I've made mental health a priority precisely because there are issues. Over the years we haven't given mental health the same focus in our national health service and other services as I think is necessary."

    But on World Mental Health Day, let us look at the reality. Far from building on the Liberal Democrat legacy, the Conservatives have taken a wrecking ball to it.

    Additional funding secured by the Lib Dems in the last coalition Budget - £1.25bn over five years - is not all being delivered. In year one, almost half was diverted elsewhere. In year two, half of local areas fell short of what they should have spent.

    Even if, for a moment, you put aside the human misery of mental ill health, this parsimonious attitude represents poor economics. Mental health problems cost 70 million days off sick a year, with one in six employees depressed. The bill? £22bn a year - eye-watering sums, and behind them often are tear-jerking stories.

    But money is not the only policy failure.

    Shockingly, the Care Quality Commission reported in July that there are 3,500 beds in locked mental health rehabilitation wards - a contradiction, surely? These beds are often a long way from home, leaving victims institutionalised and isolated.

    The CQC also highlighted the use of force to restrain patients. Four years on from the guidance I issued as minister to end this practice, it persists in far too many places. My investigation revealed a staggering 12,347 cases of face-down restraint in a single year - 33 each day.

    Yet Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that "no one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment". The uncomfortable truth is that in Britain in 2017, many people are. Imagine having suffered abuse earlier in your life and then experiencing the physical force of face down restraint in a mental health ward. This can destroy trust and can be appallingly traumatic.

    In children's mental health services, long waits and outrageous thresholds for admission are common. A father in North Norfolk told me how his teenage daughter with significant mental illness had been told that she would have to wait up to nine months to start her treatment.

    And then there are those shunted across the country because there is no care available close to home.

    Things are so bad that a judge had to intervene in August to demand a bed be found for a teenage girl who was acutely ill and about to be released from youth custody. The nation, he said, would have "blood on its hands" if an NHS bed could not be found.

    Meanwhile, teenagers with an eating disorder are too often turned away from treatment: "Your body mass index isn't low enough." Would we turn away someone with cancer and tell them to return when their tumour had grown? Like cancer, eating disorders can kill.

    And it is a scandal of our time that there are so many people in our prisons who are there, in large part, because of their mental ill health. Yet their chances of proper care and treatment are not good.

    There were a catastrophic 40,000 cases of self-harm in our prisons last year. Every three days, a life was lost to suicide. Even putting aside the human cost, surely proper investment in wellbeing, education and drug rehabilitation in prison - and diverting more people away from incarceration - would ultimately save money. The recidivism rate would surely fall, rather than leaving us with one of the highest prison populations in Europe.

    While chairing a commission on mental health in the West Midlands, I've proposed a "Wellbeing Premium" - a temporary discount on your business rates if you take tangible steps to improve wellbeing at work. If we can show clear, positive results from our proposed trial, then the Government should roll this out across the country.

    And we should set a clear requirement that any company bidding for public contracts must demonstrate that they are a good employer, that they care for their workers. Why should we give work to corporate cowboys?

    We could also make mental health awareness part of teacher training, because it is the incidence of mental illness among young people that is now so alarming.

    But we cannot hide away from the uncomfortable truth that we need more resources. If Theresa May can think beyond the headlines to her legacy, she will realise government is about tackling the problem, not the publicity.

    Norman Lamb is the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk