Useful News

Why Can’t the Conservatives Fix Mental Health in the UK?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the forms of illness that UK residents suffer from and what is – and isn’t – being done to help them by the Conservative government…

Over the years, there has been more focus on mental health being a priority to the Government. But, time and time again, the Conservatives have let the British public down, with cuts to the NHS service and blatant lack of care for mental health services.

Many feel that the state of mental health in the UK is fast becoming an epidemic. Vast underfunding has led to a significant number of people accusing the Conservative Government of medical negligence in mental health.

Mental health problems can take a number of forms and range from mild issues such as depression and anxiety, to the more severe conditions like schizophrenia and psychotic disorders which require hospitalisation and expert care. The question is, why can’t conservatives seem to quash the issue? Let’s delve into more detail…

What Form of Mental Health Affects the UK the Most?

One of the most prevalent forms of mental health in the UK is dementia, with a staggering 850,000 patients requiring specialist care. The term ‘dementia’ covers a number of different illnesses, including Alzheimer’s Disease’ which largely affects the over 65s. 

Dementia slowly corrodes the patient’s ability to think, rationalise and make decisions, and often begins with memory problems. Dementia patients will almost always eventually require full time care. This often falls to family members having to stop working in order to care for their loved one.

In 2018, the Conservative Government pledged to raise funding to help dementia patients from £83 million to £160 million, stating that ‘We will make finding a cure one of our government’s biggest collective priorities’. 

Despite Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, reiterating this pledge in September 2021, government health officials recently admitted that, instead of being increased, dementia funding has actually been cut to £75 million, to be shared by a number of different research organisations.

This cut has caused dismay among dementia charities. David Thomas of Alzheimer’s Research UK has said, ‘Current research spending is dwarfed by the condition’s £25 billion cost to our economy. With no treatments its devastating impact will only get worse’.

What is the Danger to the Public?

While most people who suffer from mental illness present no danger to the public, extreme conditions can result in violent reactions if left untreated. Figures show that those suffering from psychosis are associated with an increase of between 49% to 68% of the possibility of becoming violent. 

Cuts in spending on mental health, including psychosis and schizophrenia, not only pose an increased danger to the public and to sufferers themselves but, also, place increased pressure on the UK police service. 

In 2017, 9,000 calls were made to the Metropolitan Police Service from those suffering from severe mental illness, at a cost of £70,000. Shockingly, it was revealed that those 9,000 emergency calls were all made by just five people. Treatment for severe illnesses such as these is as complex as it is urgent and involves community health teams (CMHTs). 

These teams provide essential day to day support for sufferers to help manage their conditions and afford them independence. Such a team will generally consist of the services of:

  • Social workers
  • Community health nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Counsellors / psychotherapists
  • Pychologists and psychiatrists

When you consider that the services of these professionals are required for each and every patient, you get an idea of the kind of funding that is necessary to allow these patients to manage their conditions and achieve as normal a life as possible.

Why Can’t the Conservatives Fix the Problem of Mental Health in the UK?

A Low Priority for the Conservatives

Mental health issues can be devastating for both sufferers and their loved ones. In the UK, it’s estimated that one in four people suffer from some form of mental health problem. 

In recent years, a large number of individuals and organisations, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been campaigning to raise awareness for mental health issues. Following the tragic suicide of TV presenter, Caroline Flack, the #BeKind movement was added to the campaigning. 

Despite increased awareness – and the alarming figures in the UK, it has become increasingly clear that mental health remains a low priority for the Conservative Government.

Added Pressure on the NHS

Many mental health patients in the United Kingdom rely on the NHS in order to be able to manage their conditions and to live as normal a life as possible. 

In 2020, The Royal College of Pyschiatrists reported that patients suffering from conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Bipolar (also known as manic depression) were having to wait up to two years for treatment due to systematic underfunding by the Conservative government. 

Many of these patients were forced to resort to contacting emergency services, including A&E departments to receive the help that they needed. In 2021, average salaries for NHS staff were cut by around £850 – a cut which the Conservative government justified with the words ‘The NHS needs to live within its means’.

Chronic Underinvesting

When it comes to pinpointing the reasons why the Conservatives can’t fix mental health in the UK, the answer is as clear as it is simple. The Conservative Government has repeatedly made funding promises which, many believe, it had absolutely no intention of keeping. 

In 2016, the government’s own Mental Health task force concluded that there was ‘chronic underinvestment in mental healthcare across the NHS in recent years.’ Despite this damning admission, underfunding – and, in fact, cuts – have continued systematically, along with understaffing. 

Major Lack of Healthcare Professionals

On World Mental Health Day in 2017, former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, boasted that there were 30,000 more mental health professionals working for the NHS than when he came into office. Hunt was later forced to retract this statement when it emerged that the increase was, in fact, just 700 professionals.

There are around 215,000 mental health professionals working in England, however, it was recently revealed that around 20,000 of these posts are filled by temporary agency staff.  This is a problem which can only get worse as more and more NHS staff seek alternative employment due to low salaries and a lack of support. 

Wasting Resources

Over the years, the Conservative Government seems to have offered a number of excuses for the drastic underfunding of mental health services. It came as no surprise when, in 2022, this unacceptable situation was blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the government wasted £8.7 billion on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which, as it would turn out, was not fit for purpose.

A large part of the problem is down to the fact that funding for mental health is not ‘ring fenced’. This means that the Government is able to divert funds from mental health services to other types of services at will. 

This was very much the case during the pandemic when the Conservative Government, by its own admission, diverted mental health funds to other services which it deemed to be more urgent.

It seems there is no intention of fixing these major issues…

Despite a number of empty promises and statements, the Conservative Government seem to have no intention of putting its money where its mouth is. Over the last five years, the Government has spent an inordinate amount of money on things that the UK population neither needs or wants, including:

  • £18 billion on ID cards
  • £17 billion on a high-speed rail link
  • £2.5 million on translators
  • £3 million on legal aid for politicians accused of criminal activity

While all of this irresponsible spending was going on, a huge number of mental health patients were being denied the care and treatment that they so desperately needed. Sadly, many of these people paid the ultimate price for government spending as they were driven to suicide.

The simple answer is that the Conservative government needs to urgently address the issue of funding for mental health services in the UK – both for treatment and for research. There also needs to be urgent funding for those who care for loved ones who suffer from mental health issues. At present, those caring full time for loved ones with dementia receive just £69.70 per week.


Support Conservative Daily News with a small donation via Paypal or credit card that will go towards supporting the news and commentary you've come to appreciate.

Related Articles

Back to top button