Content headnote: this article references mental health in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to mental health treatment; discrimination; medication; conditions; out-of-area placements; crime; trauma; and suicide.
This post intends to provide a factual and straightforward re-statement of pledges and commitments relating to mental health and mental health care contained within the manifestos of each of the eight largest political parties (by candidates fielded) participating in the United Kingdom’s General Election in December 2019. It does not intend to assess, criticise, prioritise or appraise the individual or collective policies or positions of any or all of the parties included.
The information contained in this article does not reflect the views of the Independent Mental Health Network, which does not endorse political organisations. The information reported on below is correct and up to date as of Tuesday 10 December 2019.
Please note: each section below covers the content of a particular Political Party’s manifesto. These sections are randomised; this means that each time this webpage is loaded or reloaded, they will appear in a different, randomised order.
The Labour Party (‘Labour’)
Labour pledge to allocate an additional £1.6 billion to address the lack of parity of esteem between the treatment of mental and physical health conditions. In addition to this, a £2 billion investment is pledged to modernise mental health treatment facilities in hospitals, and to ‘end…out-of-area placements.’
The manifesto outlines a £845 million plan to double the annual spending on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (‘CAMHS’) and recruit 3500 counsellors for schools in order to support the mental health of young people.
More specific areas of action include:
- The implementation of recommendations made by the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act (the ‘Wessely Review’)
- The implementation of NICE guidelines on eating disorders
- Introducing a royal commission to bring health and safety legislation and regulations up to date, including providing for mental health
- mental health support for NHS staff
- improving veteran access to mental health services
- introducing mental health assessments in maternal health checks made six weeks post-birth
- improving 24/7 crisis services and IAPT services
- Introducing a training bursary for nurses and allied health professionals; as well as removing tuition fees for university study (including nursing degrees).
The Scottish National Party (‘SNP’)
The SNP refer to mental health in their manifesto when discussing migration and immigration. The party states its opposition to detaining people with mental illnesses.
In the party’s plans to prevent children suffering online harm, the SNP intend to introduce a statutory duty of care and mandatory obligations upon technology, gaming and social media companies, that will require them to tackle unsuitable content that can lead to self-harm and suicide appearing on their platforms
The SNP commit to no tuition fees in Scotland. The party do not mention the nursing profession or plans for funding and support of nurses in training in their manifesto.
The United Kingdom Independent Party (‘UKIP’)
UKIP’s manifesto pledges to introduce practical policies to improve the delivery of mental health services and increase mental health funding, ‘as necessary.’
The party intends to investigate the causes of mental health problems so that they may tackle them at source and be ‘proactive’ in public health campaigns to encourage people to take responsibility for better care of their health.
UKIP plan to increase the number of training places for British nurses, in order to provide 40,000 extra nurses. To support nurses in training, student bursaries will be re-introduced for nursing and midwifery students. The party also plans to change the way the nurses become qualified, providing an alternative for nurses to qualify other than via degrees. UKIP plans to reintroduce State Enrolled Nurses, and recruitment of nurse associates and assistant practitioners via apprenticeship schemes.
The Brexit Party
The Brexit Party have published a ‘Contract with the People’ in place of a manifesto. The party’s Contract with the People does not refer to or discuss matters related to mental health, or funding of education of nurses.
The party pledges to remove the degree requirement for nursing professions, whilst introducing a nursing qualification in social care.
The Green Party of England and Wales (‘The Green Party’)
The Green Party manifesto states an intention to ‘widen and enhance’ the services provided by the NHS, including fit-for-purpose mental health services. They intend to focus funding on improving mental health care in order to put it on an ‘equal footing’ with physical health.
The party intends to reduce wait times for accessing evidence-based therapies to within 28 days.
The Green Party intends to scrap tuition fees and allocate a further £1 billion a year to nursing higher education, allowing nursing bursaries to be reinstated.
The party will also reinstate the Health Secretary’s duty to ensure there are enough health and care staff (including nursing) to meet the needs of the population.
The manifesto states that specific mental health provision will be made for LGBTIQA+ individuals and BME communities, children, adolescents, and older people. Mental health care also forms part of the Green Party’s plans to tackle discrimination with LGBTIQA+ and BME communities.
The research and development of psychoactive drug-based treatments for mental health conditions also forms part of the Green Party’s drug policy.
Plaid Cymru’s manifesto discusses the value the party places on the parity of esteem between mental and physical health services within the NHS. They pledge to provide a 5% cumulative increase on mental health expenditure every year for the next decade.
More specific areas of action include:
- establishment of 24/7 Crisis services
- introduction of Welsh-based specialist mental health services to prevent travel being required to access services
- the addition of understanding the importance of mental health and wellbeing to school curriculums
- the support of mental health in new parents by extending access to perinatal mental health services, and restoring mother and baby mental health units within Wales which have been previously closed
- in the area of nursing degrees, Plaid Cymru pledge to undertake a review of funding for tuition fees and living costs for Welsh-domiciled students; provide a subsidy to students resident in Wales who wish to study in Wales; and ensure that those taking up key healthcare posts pay no tuition fees
- increasing the number of specialist nurses in hospital settings.
Plaid Cymru pledge to create a Community NHS Rehabilitation Service, with medical professionals including therapists and Mental Health Counsellors, which will be responsible for follow-up treatments of patients and supporting independent living.
Additionally, during discussion of plans for prisons, support for the victims of crime, and support for veterans; Plaid Cymru mention the importance of recognising the factor and impact that mental health can have on people in these situations.
The Conservative and Unionist Party (‘The Conservative Party’)
As part of the Conservative Party’s commitment to provide 50,000 more nurses for public health services, they propose an annual maintenance grant scheme for nurses in training, with further funding available for those pursuing qualifications in mental health-specific disciplines.
The manifesto states a commitment that mental health will be prioritised as urgently as physical health is.
Legislation will be introduced giving patients ‘greater control’ over the mental health treatment they receive.
The Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrat manifesto makes a number of references to the party’s belief that it is important for mental health to receive the same priority as physical health. The party’s top-line commitment for mental health services is £11bn throughout the course of the next Parliament, in order to ‘increase access to therapies’ and the number of specialists delivering them. A commitment is made to ring-fence revenue from a planned income tax rise to invest in mental health generally.
More specific areas of action include:
- placing mental health liaisons in all hospitals, and ‘ending the use of police cells for people facing a mental health crisis’
- addressing mental health in young people by training school teaching staff and appointing a specific person of responsibility within schools; stopping the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) ‘cliff-edge’; and including mental health in a ‘Curriculum of Life’ (to be introduced in schools as part of the party’s education policy)
- legislating on mental health support for University students
- introducing free prescriptions for people with chronic mental health conditions
- implementing the recommendations made by the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act (the ‘Wessely Review’)
- making crisis services available 24 hours a day
- ensuring continuity of mental health and addiction care between prisons and the community
- ensuring those admitted to hospital for mental ill-health are treated ‘close to home’
- ensuring veteran mental health is supported
- reinstating maintenance grants for ‘the poorest students’ studying at university (including nursing degrees)
Social initiatives include related to mental health, wellbeing and culture include:
- investing in education to reduce mental health stigma
- a scheme of tax reductions for businesses who support the mental wellbeing of employees
- supporting a ‘compassionate debt culture’ to address the higher rate of suicide by individuals in debt
- investing in research and into the needs of people from different communities
- pursuing a ‘Health in All Policies’ approach, which says that national and local decision-making, policies and interventions will only take place after the full impact on people’s mental (and physical) health is assessed
- adding a requirement for mental health first-aiders in health and safety regulations.
Condition-specific measures include:
- implementing the recommendations of the ‘Bubb’ Report (Winterbourne View – Time for Change: Transforming the commissioning of services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism)
- introducing dedicated mental health support in postnatal and perinatal care
- stipulating maximum waiting times for mental health care in children’s’ services, emergency care, and for those with severe and enduring conditions.
The Liberal Democrats do not mention nursing recruitment or tuition fees in their manifesto.
December 11, 2019 at 8:46 am