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Burnham For Mayor

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Government waters down critical children’s mental health report

Today’s report on mental health services for children and young people, published by the Department of Health, fails to include key criticisms of the Government’s record made in the original copy.

The copy of the original report that emerged last month saw expert authors criticise the Government for its reductions in funding and the impact on services and waiting times.

“Since 2011 there has been a reduction in funding and consequent reduction in service provision, and an increase in waiting times; […]. Meanwhile, CAMHS providers report increased demand in terms of the number and complexity of referrals combined with cuts in CAMHS budgets."

However, the same paragraph today had become:

“Since 2011, our best evidence is that these difficulties are the result of financial constraints accompanied by rising demand."

Similarly, the original report references a “Lack of parity in funding decisions” – between mental health and physical health – but this criticism has been removed.

Only ten days ago it emerged that the Department of Health is also failing to publish a damning report on its management of the NHS by Lord Stuart Rose. Labour wrote to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to call for its immediate publication, but the Secretary of State has not responded.

This Government has become so desperate to run from its NHS record that they are now removing damaging criticisms from official reports. It is outrageous behaviour from a Government to seek to silence expert critics.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg cannot hide from the fact that the children’s mental health budget has been cut in real terms over this Parliament and the NHS has lost 3,300 specialist mental health nurses and 1,500 mental health beds.

They’ve left highly vulnerable children without the support they need and being shunted up and down the motorways in search of crisis beds. Many children have been left hundreds of miles from their home and families and that is a scandal that has got to end.

The NHS as we know it can’t survive another five years of the Tories’ failing plan. Labour has a better plan to put mental health at the heart of the NHS by integrating mental health, physical health and social care into one service. We will invest an extra £2.5 billion each year in the NHS, increase the proportion of the mental health budget spent on children and recruit 20,000 more nurses, including mental health specialists.