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Health secretary pledges transformation of mental health services

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Mental health and cancer are top priorities Mental health and cancer are top priorities for the health secretary

Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for health, has committed to improving mental health services in his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

In his speech, Mr Hunt stated that the government would focus on providing support for children’s services, more help for mothers with post-natal depression and aid for those looking for work. He stated that his aim was for there to be a million more people being treated for mental health conditions every year by the end of the parliament. He also stated that mental health was a ‘personal priority’ for Theresa May, the new prime minister.

‘We legislated for parity of esteem between physical and mental health,’ said Mr Hunt. ‘So now it’s time to deliver it with an improved suicide prevention strategy in a safer NHS that gives mental health the same priority as physical health for you and your family.’

He also took the time to thank staff working in mental health settings, saying ‘working in mental health can be really challenging. So let’s thank the remarkable mental health nurses, counsellors, psychiatrists, charities like the Samaritans and MIND, volunteers and patients who fight stigma by speaking out.’

Mr Hunt also spoke about the government’s new plan for cancer. This will introduce a maximum four-week wait from referral to diagnosis; bring in Ofsted-style cancer ratings for CCGs; and do more molecular diagnostics and immunotherapy. Mr Hunt said this would save an estimated 30,000 lives a year.

‘We know with cancer the key is to catch it early. So every day, compared to 2010, we are doing 16,000 more diagnostic tests,’ he said. ‘As a result we’re starting cancer treatment for 130 more people every day and now have our highest ever cancer survival rates.’

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