General Election 2017: Parties promise major mental health reforms in bid to sway NHS voters

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The national will vote on 8 June The national will vote on 8 June

Theresa May promised a ‘revolution’ in mental health policy as political parties have sketched out their manifesto pledges for the NHS, social care and nursing staff ahead of 8 June’s general election.

Following her pledge to focus on mental illness, the Prime Minister said on 7 May she will scrap the Mental Health Act due to its ‘flawed’ rules which have led to the unnecessary detention of thousands of people.

More than 63,000 people were imprisoned under the Mental Health Act in 2014/15, up 43% from 2005-06. The act affected BME people at a rate of 56.9 per 100 mental health patients, compared with 37.5 per 100 among white patients.

Conservative party leader Mrs May said: ‘On my first day in Downing Street last July,
I described shortfalls in mental health services as one of the burning injustices in our country. It is abundantly clear to me that the discriminatory use of a law passed more than three decades ago is a key part of the reason for this.

‘So I am pledging to rip up the 1983 act and introduce in its place a new law which finally confronts the discrimination and unnecessary detention.’

If the Conservatives win the election, the act will be replaced with new legislation created in consultation with mental health charities, clinicians and patients.

One day earlier, the Liberal Democrats announced their ‘flagship spending commitment’ to add 1p to income tax in order to raise an extra £6 billion to be ring-fenced for the NHS, social care and public health.

Party leader Tim Farron said: ‘Theresa May doesn’t
care about the NHS or social care. People are lying on trolleys in hospital corridors and she has done nothing. The Liberal Democrats will rescue the NHS and social
care. We are prepared to be honest with people and say that we will all need to chip in a little more.’

Mental health charity Mind welcomed both parties’ policies. They called mental health ‘one of the biggest domestic issues facing the next government’.

Chief executive Paul Farmer said: ‘We welcome these proposals. One in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year, so every parliamentary candidate
from every party needs to accept and embrace mental health as a key issue for their constituency.’

Previously, the Labour party laid out its manifesto promises to give a pay rise for NHS staff and scrap tuition fees for student nurses and midwives.

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