Speaking to the folk at the Mind on the Wirral was a pleasure. Theirs was real blue sky thinking – the primary concern is the service user and not the service.
Wirral Borough Council, like so many local authorities, has recently been hit by austerity. They have had to make swingeing cuts throughout all their departments.
This, of course, means unemployment.Losing your job at any time can be stressful – but in the current climate it’s absolutely devastating for some.
So, you know there’s going to be distress – what do you do?
Well, the council on the Wirral paid for courses on maintaining mental well being with Mind.
Since late 2012, 1711 mental health beds have been closed. That’s 9% of the total provision.
Many health authorities are running at 100% occupancy of these beds – the situation is desperate for folk with mental health problems who need, often short term, admission.
Whereas the Wirral council has made provision for mental distress, the good ship UK has cut services.
So, we have an increased likelihood for mental distress because of austerity and we have less support available.
That makes perfect sense.
Norman Lamb, the minister responsible for this kind of Malarky, has a cunning plan.
First of all, he wants to combine the health and social care budgets.
On a basic level, this will hopefully prevent the blockage of a £200 a day bed in hospital for the want of home care that costs a third of that.
Secondly, he is finally making a noise about the lack of a maximum waiting time for the treatment of a mental malady following diagnosis.
In my experience waiting times because of this have varied between a week and forever.
Yes, there are people in the UK today being diagnosed with a mental health problem and being offered NO TREATMENT.
Conversely, if you have a physical illness, the longest you should wait is 18 weeks.
Mr Lamb has recognised AT LAST that this discrepancy has an effect in how NHS managers target their services.
I’ll be keen to see what he’ll be doing to rectify this horrific imbalance.
My concern though is that I’m suffering from that media condition ‘political hope’.
It is sad when we have the minister responsible for mental health appearing on the BBC declaring ‘something must be done’ gradually being struck by the realisation that the buck stops with him.
Dare we hope?
Walk a mile