Government accused over 'national scandal' of suicide rate increase


The NHS's mental health system is under "huge pressure" with the Government's rhetoric not matching reality, Labour has claimed.

Shadow minister for mental health Luciana Berger argued it was a "national scandal" the country's suicide rate was going up not down.

But community and social care minister Alistair Burt hit back insisting the Government "have provided the resources in a way which I'm afraid her party did not," arguing that mental health services were "moving forward".

Speaking during Commons health questions, she said: "Last week, yet another report this one from the King's Fund warned of a mental health system which is under huge pressure.

"On this Government's watch just 14% of patients feel that they've received appropriate care in a crisis. We know that the number of mental health nurses has dropped and increasing numbers of people are having to travel hundreds of miles for a bed.

"What action will the minister take to turn his rhetoric into reality."

Mr Burt said Government had "made strides" adding: "We are investing more money in relation to mental health, an increase to £11.7 billion last year and this was the first Government to introduce access and waiting times for mental health to try and put it on a parity with other conditions which had not been the way it had been done before."

He said: "We know it's a service that has lagged in the past, that's why we're so determined to do much more about about it."

Ms Berger queried public health grant funding asking how it could be justified.

She said: "In our country the suicide rate is going up not down and it's a national scandal that we need to urgently address."

She added: "The Government have confirmed that it'll be making an in year £200 million cut to local public health grants, this is a political decision, it's not going to save money and apart from the devastating human price, it's going to cost our NHS and our local authorities more as they deal with both physical and mental ill health that could have been prevented, how can the minister justify this?"

Mr Burt replied: "Firstly £1.25 billion is going in to create new services for children and young people's mental health services during the course of this Parliament, that is not a commitment that her party made before the general election.

"There is more work being done in schools in order to provide a better base for mental health, we for the first time have appointed a minister in the Department for Education with responsibility to mental health in schools."

The Government, he added, was addressing pressures in the NHS through its "commitment to £8 billion and now £10 billion extra by the end of this Parliament", a commitment, he argued, was not made by Labour.