NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington
12 Jan 2017A Shared Society? It will take more than a speech and a slogan for Theresa May to convince people that she wants to tackle division in society.
Whilst Teresa May made a speech in favour of a shared society on Monday, spiralling inequality and division remain in Britain.
The Tories should be judged on what they have done in government: over the last six years they have systematically failed to stand up for the majority. Under the Tories those at the top have been given tax breaks while everyone else suffers, working people have had vital support cut and our NHS is being run into the ground.
Whilst Teresa May promised a new focus on mental health issues, as Andrew Gywnne MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister Without Portfolio, said: “Mental health is a case study in Tory failure. Repeatedly the Tories give speeches saying they will give mental health parity with physical health, but their record is dismal: spending on mental health fell by £600 million in the last parliament, money intended for children’s mental health goes to other priorities and there are thousands fewer mental health nurses than when the Tories came to power.”
You can watch Jeremy Corbyn take on Teresa May at #PMQs on the ‘shared society’ and the crisis in the NHS here
The Tory record on mental health is one of failure
Despite Theresa May’s speech this week, the reality is that the Tories have been in Government for six years and during that time have failed to ensure that mental health is given the same priority as physical health.
The Government has failed to provide sufficient funding for mental health services, and people are being let down as a result.
Funding for mental health fell by over 8 per cent over the last parliament, there are now 6,600 fewer mental health nurses compared to 2010 and thousands of patients in crisis have to travel out of area for a psychiatric bed. Additionally, much of the extra funding meant for children’s mental health services has actually been used for other NHS services.
As Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Mental Heath said: “This Tory Government’s record on mental health is one of failure,” and whilst “They might talk about equality between mental and physical health, but we are yet to see their rhetoric become reality.”
The Tories Must Take Responsibility for the crisis in the NHS
The crisis in our NHS is unprecedented with people lying on trolleys in corridors waiting to be seen and hospitals having to close their doors, unable to admit patients.
This winter we are seeing a third of hospitals reporting they need urgent help to cope with the numbers of patients coming through the doors, A&Es have had to turn patients away more than 140 times in December because they couldn’t cope and several hospitals have admitted they couldn’t offer patients comprehensive care.
Astonishingly, the Red Cross has announced it is providing humanitarian assistance to NHS trusts that simply do not have the resources to cope. As Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “The Red Cross being called in to help in our hospitals is just the latest staggering example of how the NHS is now being pushed to breaking point. For the Red Cross to brand the situation a ‘humanitarian crisis’ should be a badge of shame for government ministers. “
Then this week Jeremy Hunt suggested that the four hour A&E target no longer apply to minor illnesses.
The fact is this government have repeatedly failed to put the necessary resources into our health service, while they have cut social care and wasted billions on a top-down reorganization to accelerate privatization.
As Jeremy Corbyn put it “ The health service is at breaking point. But this crisis is not due to an outbreak of disease. It is a crisis made in Downing Street by this government – a crisis we warned them about.”
The Conservatives failed to find a single penny for the NHS in their autumn statement. Now, Labour is demanding that Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt have to take both responsibility and urgent action to tackle it.
An important ruling from the European Court protecting our rights
You may have missed the news over the seasonal break that key aspects of UK legislation relating to the powers of the state over citizens have been struck down by the European Court. This government and its predecessor have been deemed to be over-reaching in relation to those powers, infringing the rights of all citizens.
You can read my piece on how this legislation relating to the powers of the state over citizens have been struck down by the European Court and we will seek to work with the Government for a major legislative rethink here.