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  • LDDA Logo
    Article: Oct 11, 2017

    It could be "impossible" for 70% of Wales and Border trains to meet new disability regulations by 2020, a report has warned. The assembly's petitions committee calls the timescale for meeting the target "extremely daunting".

    Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates said all passenger needs would be "fully addressed" in a new rail franchise.

  • LDDA Logo
    Article: Oct 11, 2017
    By Alan Marshall

    AWARENESS of mental health problems has increased dramatically in recent years, partly due to high profile celebrities speaking out about their experiences, but also as a result of national and local campaigns to reduce the stigma. Recently however, there have been discussions around whether these campaigns are actually doing more harm than good.

  • Norman Lamb (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Oct 11, 2017
    By Norman Lamb MP in The Independent
    Additional funding secured by the Lib Dems in the last coalition Budget - £1.25bn over five years - is not all being delivered.

    If governing was all about making the right noises, Theresa May would be an exceptional Prime Minister. For instance, she hit upon the crisis in social housing and promised action. We all applauded. And then found out that her actual response to this national emergency was to build 5,000 houses, dismissed by an independent expert as "chicken feed".

    So too, sadly, with mental health, which as a Liberal Democrat health minister in the coalition I tried to push to the top of the political agenda. Recently the Prime Minister declared: "I've made mental health a priority precisely because there are issues. Over the years we haven't given mental health the same focus in our national health service and other services as I think is necessary."

    But on World Mental Health Day, let us look at the reality. Far from building on the Liberal Democrat legacy, the Conservatives have taken a wrecking ball to it.

    Additional funding secured by the Lib Dems in the last coalition Budget - £1.25bn over five years - is not all being delivered. In year one, almost half was diverted elsewhere. In year two, half of local areas fell short of what they should have spent.

    Even if, for a moment, you put aside the human misery of mental ill health, this parsimonious attitude represents poor economics. Mental health problems cost 70 million days off sick a year, with one in six employees depressed. The bill? £22bn a year - eye-watering sums, and behind them often are tear-jerking stories.

    But money is not the only policy failure.

    Shockingly, the Care Quality Commission reported in July that there are 3,500 beds in locked mental health rehabilitation wards - a contradiction, surely? These beds are often a long way from home, leaving victims institutionalised and isolated.

    The CQC also highlighted the use of force to restrain patients. Four years on from the guidance I issued as minister to end this practice, it persists in far too many places. My investigation revealed a staggering 12,347 cases of face-down restraint in a single year - 33 each day.

    Yet Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that "no one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment". The uncomfortable truth is that in Britain in 2017, many people are.

    Imagine having suffered abuse earlier in your life and then experiencing the physical force of face down restraint in a mental health ward. This can destroy trust and can be appallingly traumatic.

    In children's mental health services, long waits and outrageous thresholds for admission are common. A father in North Norfolk told me how his teenage daughter with significant mental illness had been told that she would have to wait up to nine months to start her treatment.

    And then there are those shunted across the country because there is no care available close to home.

    Things are so bad that a judge had to intervene in August to demand a bed be found for a teenage girl who was acutely ill and about to be released from youth custody.

    The nation, he said, would have "blood on its hands" if an NHS bed could not be found.

    Meanwhile, teenagers with an eating disorder are too often turned away from treatment: "Your body mass index isn't low enough."

    Would we turn away someone with cancer and tell them to return when their tumour had grown? Like cancer, eating disorders can kill.

    And it is a scandal of our time that there are so many people in our prisons who are there, in large part, because of their mental ill health. Yet their chances of proper care and treatment are not good.

    There were a catastrophic 40,000 cases of self-harm in our prisons last year. Every three days, a life was lost to suicide. Even putting aside the human cost, surely proper investment in wellbeing, education and drug rehabilitation in prison - and diverting more people away from incarceration - would ultimately save money. The recidivism rate would surely fall, rather than leaving us with one of the highest prison populations in Europe.

    While chairing a commission on mental health in the West Midlands, I've proposed a "Wellbeing Premium" - a temporary discount on your business rates if you take tangible steps to improve wellbeing at work. If we can show clear, positive results from our proposed trial, then the Government should roll this out across the country.

    And we should set a clear requirement that any company bidding for public contracts must demonstrate that they are a good employer, that they care for their workers. Why should we give work to corporate cowboys?

    We could also make mental health awareness part of teacher training, because it is the incidence of mental illness among young people that is now so alarming.

    But we cannot hide away from the uncomfortable truth that we need more resources. If Theresa May can think beyond the headlines to her legacy, she will realise government is about tackling the problem, not the publicity.

    Norman Lamb is the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk

  • Joan Walmsley
    Article: Oct 10, 2017
    By Joan Walmsley in Liberal Democrat Voice

    One of the worst scandals in the NHS is the provision, or lack of it, for children with mental health problems.

    "Stick with us" is a major report by the Children's Society about more than 150,000 missed CAMHS appointments in 2016. It is estimated that, at £290 per appointment, they cost £45m last year - much less than it would cost to collect proper data about child mental health. The last proper data was collected in 2004, so it's not just the present government who are to blame.

  • Social care
    Article: Oct 8, 2017
    By Steve Spear in Liberal Democrat Voice

    What do people who need to enter residential care fear most? Losing the home they have worked for the best part of their lives? Separation from their spouse they have shared a bed with for decades? Going to a place where they know they are going to die?

    At a time when a person is at their most vulnerable we force them away from their families and potentially destroy their treasured legacy for their children and grandchildren. So let's be clear, caring for the elderly and keeping them safe as they become frail is more than just a financial crisis, but the solution to both is in how we construct the care budget.

  • Disabled
    Article: Oct 7, 2017
    By Kirsten Johnson in Liberal Democrat Voice

    Have you heard about the Disabled Children's Partnership? It was launched over the summer by a large group of charities, including Mencap, Contact and The Children's Trust. The network now links more than fifty organisations who support children with a range of conditions, from the Fragile X Society and the Down's Syndrome Association to Young Lives with Cancer CLIC Sargent and the Myotonic Dystrophy Support Group.

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Oct 5, 2017
    By Andrew Gregory in The Mirror

    Sir Vince Cable: Nearly 500 people died last year waiting for donors ... that's why I am backing Mirror's campaign

    Lib Dem leader says the party are backing our Change the Law for Life to make giving organs an opt-out system

    " Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has thrown his weight behind the Mirror campaign to change the law on organ donation .

  • Norman Lamb (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 26, 2017

    Responding to Jonathan Ashworth's comments on the Today Programme that he was not convinced by a cross-party approach to tackling the crisis in social care, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

    "It is disappointing, but not at all surprising, that the Labour Party seems intent on putting petty political point scoring ahead of the opportunity to genuinely help millions of vulnerable older people. We already know more than a million people are not getting social care they need, and this is only set to get worse as politicians in Westminster fail to act. Shouting at each other doesn't get older people the care they need.

  • Vince Cable (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
    Article: Sep 21, 2017

    9,832 EU nationals left the NHS between 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, figures published by NHS Digital today have revealed. This is an increase of 22% on the previous year, and up 42% on two years earlier.

    In total 3,885 nurses, 1,794 doctors and 1,518 support staff from the EU left the NHS between June 2016 and June 2017.

  • Comforting Chldren
    Article: Sep 19, 2017
    By Norman Lamb

    Liberal Democrat conference has today called for tax breaks for employers who improve mental health.

    We need a bold new approach to improving mental health focused on prevention, including giving discounts to business rates for companies that take concrete steps to improve well-being in the workplace.