Political progress being made
The appointment by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of a shadow minister for mental health is a welcome development
The appointment by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of a shadow minister for mental health is a welcome development.
Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, who was formerly the shadow public health minister working in opposition with Andy Burnham during the coalition government, was given the post last month.
She has said that services are in crisis, and it will be her job to keep the government honest on the issue of mental health.
The best result of her appointment, of course, would be for the government to appoint its own minister for mental health, with the powers necessary to make changes to policy and funding decisions.
I’m not sure that is going to happen, but the fact that there is now a shadow minister shows how much mental health has risen up the political agenda in recent years.
It is ironic, however, that while this increase in prominence is happening, the system appears to be creaking at the seams.
Nurses are doing fantastic work – think about the Safewards project, which is improving acute care around the UK and overseas.
But it would be a tragedy if these innovations flounder because of a lack of political will to fund and put into place clinically effective care, and enough of it to make a difference to people’s lives.
Politicians are judged by the outcomes of their policies, and those in opposition have the luxury of not being responsible for services.
But Ms Berger has an opportunity to keep mental health as a major element on the political agenda for the duration of this parliament, and that can only be a good thing.