I agree that changes in mental health services should only be on the basis of demonstrated clinical need and closures and cuts should only follow consultation with both staff and service users. If elected I will use the powers and resources of the mayor to campaign against the cuts and the break-up of the NHS. Mental health services have long been considered Cinderella services by NHS commissioners. That is why in my manifesto I have explicitly committed to "develop a new plan for high quality, integrated mental health services for London." If I am elected I hope that the UKCP would be willing to work with me staff to develop such a plan.
While I am unable to comment on the specific cases that you highlight, any major change to mental health services in London should, of course, only take place after staff and service users are consulted.
Although it is quite clear that in this tough financial climate difficult decisions have to be made, as mayor I would do everything possible to ensure that frontline services are protected so that people receive the help they deserve and need. Indeed, I believe that the provision of safe, modern and effective mental health services that offer real choice to patients should be a health priority in our city.
As a Liberal Democrat I take mental health extremely seriously, and last year Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrat Health minister Paul Burstow announced the Coalition's mental health strategy. In this strategy the Coalition focused on the importance of placing mental health on a par with physical health in terms of public awareness and the service patients receive -a sentiment I would wholeheartedly echo. Furthermore, as mayor I would want to encourage local Health and Wellbeing Boards in the city to play an active role in ensuring mental health provision in their area meets the needs and wishes of individuals, so that we can build up supportive and understanding communities - with no room for a postcode lottery on mental health.
As you will also of course be aware, mental health and its effects cost the economy around £110bn a year. So, rather than looking at mental health as a just a health burden, we should look at it in a way that could really revitalise our capital's economy. For instance, if we focus on investing in preventative services then we can help people to stay in work, or return to work earlier so that they can remain productive and healthier at the same time.
We believe in a properly funded, publicly provided health service. We will argue consistently against attempts to privatise or weaken the NHS, while pushing for better access to services in areas such as mental health and family planning. Greens on the London Assembly have already supported local campaigns against privatisation and hospital closures. Our manifesto includes a pledge to continue to campaign for better health services in London, including better access to contraception and family planning services, better resources for mental health services both in the community and in hospitals, and free prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment.
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