IT is to this country’s credit that attitudes towards mental health sufferers are far more enlightened and there is now an acceptance, on the part of politicians, about their moral duty to provide sufficient resources.
To his credit, Nick Clegg sought to draw attention to this Cinderella service while Deputy Prime Minister – and Theresa May promised, on the steps of 10 Downing Street, to champion the issue.
However today’s report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee reveals the scale of the proverbial mountain that Mrs May’s government has to climb if mental health services are to receive fairer funding. Not only this, but their availability is “complex, variable and difficult to navigate” according to those MPs tasked with upholding the interests of the most important people of all – patients.
Yet the central conclusion – only one quarter of individuals have access to the services they require – would be less stark if politicians, health trusts, unions and trade bodies were less blinkered in their approach. Understandably, their priority is responding to A&E waiting times with emergency funding, or various other initiatives, to reduce the likelihood of a winter beds crisis and politically embarrassing publicity.
What those concerned struggle to grasp, however, is that pressure on beds is being exacerbated by serial shortcomings in social care, hence the number of elderly patients who cannot be discharged from hospital promptly, and a lack of mental health provision which means sufferers invariably arrive at their local casualty department as a last resort and out of desperation.
Sadly, there’s little likelihood of a joined-up healthcare when so much of the NHS now appears to be run by bureaucrats for the benefit of bureaucrats rather than the needs of patients. Until there’s a change of mindset when it comes to planning, there will be no let up in the strains facing this region’s hospitals. The sooner politicians swallow their medicine and accept this reality, the better.
A power vacuum
HAS the world, and global institutions like the United Nations, ever been so powerless? It’s a question that has to be asked after an aid convoy came under aerial attack in Syria, with at least 12 humanitarians killed.
Even with international leaders gathered in New York for the UN General Assembly, the expressions of ‘outrage’ – and warnings that the atrocity might constitute a war crime – seemed so inadequate as charities suspended the transportation of food and emergency medical supplies to the helpless victims of Syria’s civil war.
If this latest bloodbath, one of so many, doesn’t prick the consciences of world leaders and force them to show some political bravery that honours the courage shown by the charities doing their utmost in this hell-hole, what will?
As diplomacy threatens to become a dying art, not least because of the political vacuum as Barack Obama’s presidency drifts to an ineffectual end, there seems a desire to shore up German leader Angela Merkel’s faltering position over the migration crisis rather than an acceptance that it is the strife in Syria that is exacerbating the pressure on Europe’s borders. Given this, many will share the wishes of the late MP Jo Cox who nominated the White Helmets – the aid volunteers working in Syria – for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced next month. Unlike those leaders with all the power and none of the answers, their heroism is truly humbling.
Return of Superheroes: Part 2
WHEN she left Leeds for the Rio Paralympics, Kadeena Cox was a largely unheralded competitor who harboured dreams of winning gold medals in two separate sports. Now she is the new poster girl of Team GB after exceeding her own expectations – and winning the hearts of the nation – thanks to her athletic prowess, engaging personality and fearless will to win.
It’s why words cannot do justice to her emotional reunion with relatives at Heathrow Airport. They knew the heartbreak that Kadeena suffered when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – and they also knew that this would probably be the 25-year-old’s best chance of making her mark on the world.
Kadeena Cox is not alone, the same applies to each and every Paralympian who met the gold standard set by Team GB’s record-breaking Olympians. They all deserve the warmest of welcomes, starting a week today when Leeds hosts the first of several homecoming parades. Make sure you are there, it promises to be a party like no other.