THE BLOG

One Year On From Reorganisation, We Are Further Away From Parity Than Ever Before

02/04/2014 15:30 BST | Updated 02/06/2014 10:59 BST

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the reorganisation of the NHS. It was described by Alan Milburn last night as a "car crash" and an "expensive upheaval that foolishly focused on changing structures not improving services."

However, thanks to Labour peers, one good thing to come out of the Health and Social Care Act was the commitment to parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

Despite paying lip-service to the idea, ministers have done nothing to make it a reality. One year on from the reorganisation we are further away from parity than before.

Mental health trusts have recently been told their funding will be cut by 20% more than other NHS trusts for the year ahead. One Trust in the South of England is going to have to make cuts of around £600,000. Six leading mental health charities recently said this will adversely hit services that are already 'straining at the seams' - and warned lives will be put at risk.

And it gets worse.

From this week, Ministers assured people that they would have a choice over where to receive treatment for mental health - just like people already do for physical health.

The problem is the Government seems to have forgotten all about this.

As of today, they still haven't issued the guidance and they haven't told providers how they will be paid.

I asked the responsible Ministers for answers in the Commons yesterday and reminded him that he was not a bystander in this important campaign. He blustered but had no progress to report - this is not good enough.

The stigma and prejudice often faced by people with mental health conditions must not be compounded by second-class treatment within the NHS or social care system.

Despite the progress achieved by recent campaigns, people with mental illness still have to demonstrate huge courage to be open about their condition. Ed Miliband made clear in his landmark speech to the Royal College of Psychiatrists that mental illness remains a taboo. Our society remains wary of the realities of mental illness. All of this must change.

A quarter of us will have a mental health condition at some point, according to the World Health Organisation. One in twelve will have to cope with depression.

Mental illness is too commonplace for this level of Government complacency - it really is Time to Change.