THAT the issue of mental health is being taken so seriously by each of the main parties shows not just the extent to which attitudes have changed, and for the better, but the size of the challenge facing the next Government.
Platitudes are not sufficient – promises have to be implemented and voters have every right to be slightly sceptical about Tory plans to recruit 10,000 extra staff by the end of the decade when there is already a chronic shortage of doctors and nurses. A lack of clarity over funding does not inspire total confidence.
This matters. Like the shortcomings in community care policy and out-of-hours GP cover, inadequacies in mental health provision are exacerbating the A&E beds crisis being faced by so many of this region’s hospitals on a daily basis. Even the best-run hospitals are struggling because they’re at the mercy of other organisations.
Even though Brexit pre-empted the June 8 poll, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, must accept that the NHS is a legitimate election issue. After the party pressed ahead with a reorganisation that was not set out in its 2010 manifesto, the outcome has been less accountability and longer waiting times.
Despite a more enlightened approach on mental health, the NHS is the Tory party’s Achilles heel and Mrs May should not be surprised if Labour now attempts to exploit this lack of sure-footedness.