Campaign for better mental health services

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
16 December 2015

Conference notes that mental health services continue to suffer from lack of adequate funding and poor staff to service user ratios. Many service users have been hit by cuts in welfare benefits and other austerity measures. Many staff work extra hours without pay in order to try to keep their services going; they have faced constant cuts and redundancies which put remaining staff under more and more pressure. Many mental health wards and community services rely long term on expensive agency staff. These are issues which affect all of us and our families, friends and colleagues, as 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some time.

Conference notes that many branches with members working in mental health services have been actively involved in local campaigns to defend and improve the mental health services they provide. However, particularly in England, inadequate funding, lack of parity with other health services, increasing need for services for people with complex need and high level of acuity, insufficient staffing levels – these are national not just local issues.

Conference also notes that the Labour Party has appointed a shadow minister with responsibility for mental health issues.

Despite conference resolutions calling on UNISON and the Health Service Group Executive to lead campaigns for better funding and parity of resources for mental health services, there appears to have been very little action or promotion of such campaigns. There appears to have been little challenge to the government which claims to show concern for mental health services and service users while actually making greater cuts and providing proportionally few resources than for other health services.

We therefore call on the Health Service Group Executive to make this issue a major priority for the coming year, to include the following actions:

1)To call a meeting for branches with members working in mental health services (whether in the NHS or the voluntary sector) to share experiences and to discuss strategies to raise the profile of mental health services and the problems that they face.

2)To invite the Labour Party shadow minister to this meeting.

3)To produce information about the funding of mental health services in relation to the whole NHS budget, in a format that can be easily used by branches.

4)To produce campaign materials in consultation with branches.

5)To encourage branches to work with service user groups and community groups in local campaigns for better mental health services.