A fair share for mental health has to be the NHS’s priority

Full story in The Guardian, 5 July 2018

The added disability from which our health system suffers is the isolation of mental health from the rest of the health services.” So said Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS, in 1946, two years before the creation of what is now the world’s largest publicly funded health service. It’s still true. Mental health services, the poor relation of the NHS, are often delivered on remote sites in dilapidated buildings. My clinic room is a windowless cupboard.

Praise has rightly been lavished on the NHS as it marks its 70th birthday. It is impossible to overstate the significance of its spectacular achievements. There should be celebration, there should be cake – and there was. It came in the form of Theresa May’s promise of a £20bn-a-year cash boost by 2023. But our country’s mental health services badly need a bigger slice. May admitted as much as she announced the funding, noting that: “As the NHS has grown, mental health was not a service that was prioritised.” To redress that, the “cradle to grave” NHS, for so long a source of national pride, must be rethought.