Hafal response to the General Election 2019 result

Commenting on the 2019 General Election result, Alun Thomas, Hafal’s Chief Executive, said:

“The Conservatives committed to reform the Mental Health Act in their previous term of government and they need to honour this in their next term in office. In 2018 the Government commissioned an Independent  Review which considered how the Mental Health Act should be improved. Hafal Members are calling on the new Government not only to implement the recommendations of the review but also to engage further with service users and carers to develop a new Act with patient rights at its core.

“In their manifesto the Conservatives have pledged to increase NHS funding and while the Welsh Government makes the decisions on where the Welsh budget is spent it’s imperative that this investment in health in Wales is at least at the same level as it is in England. We call on the Welsh Government to ensure that within the increased budget, mental health monies remain ring-fenced – and at a higher percentage of the overall budget than at present. We keep hearing that mental health affects one in four people and is the single largest cause of disability[1] and yet we only spend 13% of the budget in this area! We also call for a greater investment in psychological therapies.

“Of course, promoting better mental health needs to apply to all government departments. In recent years, with the introduction of Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), our Members have been short-changed by a system which is ill-equipped to deal with mental illness. We call up on the Conservative Government to ensure that the benefits system is fair to people with mental health problems, providing them with a decent income and not placing undue pressure on them to return to work when they are too ill.

“Being a Member-led charity we have also seen first-hand how austerity and a programme of cuts to local authorities has led to a lack of support in the community, and often greater reliance on the NHS. It’s essential that the Conservatives honour their commitment to end austerity and urgently increase funding to the Welsh Government so that they may properly support local authorities across Wales.”

[1] The NHS Five Year Forward View pointed out that one in four of us will experience mental health problems, and mental illness is the single largest cause of disability. Yet mental health services have for several decades been the ‘poor relation’ compared to acute hospital services for physical conditions. https://www.england.nhs.uk/five-year-forward-view/next-steps-on-the-nhs-five-year-forward-view/mental-health/