Promoted by Alan Pawsey on behalf of Chris Jones; both at St Mark's Church Hall, Hall Rd, Norwich, NR1 3HL

Dr Chris Jones

I've chosen to spend my career working in mental health and it will always be something I care deeply about. But despite some recent publicity it remains the part of health care which receives the least attention and support.

The Department of Health estimates that 23% of the ill-health in this country is mental ill-health. Despite this only 11% of NHS spending is on mental health - less than half the amount spent on equivalent physical problems. Less than 5% of the NHS research budget is spent in mental health, and at the UEA Medical School (where I am an Honorary Senior Lecturer) there are more than 120 doctors on the senior academic staff - and only 1 of them is a psychiatrist. In every area of health policy and spending mental health is the poor relation.

Government policy is now to give "Parity of Esteem" to mental health which sounds like a good thing. but what does it really mean? It certainly doesn't mean that funding of mental health services will start to close the gap - in fact mental health has taken MORE of the brunt of recent cuts, despite having to start from a much lower level. Much of the Parity of Esteem programme is aimed at improving the physical health of mental health service users (which is welcome - they get a poor deal from other parts of the health service) but that will mean even fewer resources to address mental health needs.

Last year patients from Norfolk had emergency admissions to hospital as far away as London, Somerset, Manchester and Darlington. Imagine the outcry if someone suffering a heart attack or stroke had to go more than 200 miles from home to find a bed. Figures show that more than three quarters of people with mental disorders get no treatment. Not just having to wait for treatment, or not getting the most up to date treatment, or being sent to the other end of the country - no treatment at all. If that was true of cancer services it would be front page news every day of the week: mental illness affects more people than cancer but it never gets the same attention.

If I am elected I will make promoting and developing mental health services my number one priority. Some of the details of that are here.  I know there are lots of other important issues that need attention too, and sometimes other things will be more urgent or more important, but someone needs to stand up for mental health patients and I want to be that person.  

Mental Health Services