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Not all about NHS waiting lists

Not all about NHS waiting lists. Regardless of who wins the race to 10 Downing Street, there are some clear priorities that, as a leading health and social charity care provider, we at AFG believe these need to be addressed as soon as the die is cast in early July.

Although there is no doubt that those awaiting necessary treatment need to be seen as soon as possible, the NHS waiting lists and backlog rhetoric masks the real tsunami that is hitting the NHS – the mental health crisis.

Ian Pritchard discusses NHS waiting lists

We know that public mental health resilience has declined rapidly in the past five years – the charity MIND estimates that one in four people will now experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.

That has increased from one in six in 2014 according to the Mental Health and Wellbeing in England survey undertaken by the government. Or – put in real terms – an 8.5% increase or a staggering 14 million people today suffering from a mental health condition.

And the vector is only going in one direction.  The new government needs to prioritise mental health services in the NHS, and fast.  It needs to implement clear and quick reform of the Mental Health Act, invest more in mental health funding at both a community and in patient services level and increase the capacity of provision to meet demand. 

How to fund elderly care has become the campaigning conversation, yet there is a forgotten, but just as important, group in society, unseen – the 1.8m adults who are registered with a learning disability and the millions of others who need special care and support to live normal lives.

For far too long they have been treated as second class citizens, neglected in funding and prioritisation within social care. If the party who gains power has one clear focus, it needs to bring greater public awareness of adult disability, equity in its funding and fair policies in place that puts those adults needing social care, whatever their age, front and centre of the political agenda.

For far too long adult social care has been driven by cost, rather than being person-centred resulting in those being supported having limited choices about how they can live their lives.

Finally, as the Chief Executive of an organisation whose aim is to enable those we support to achieve independence, thrive and flourish, we have a duty to ensure those with a mental health or a learning disability have a voice and a vote in this election.

We still have a society that is massively swayed towards the able, that is prejudice against those who need care, where those with disabilities are still lower down the priority list and where their lives are compromised by lack of awareness, fairness and equality.

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