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North East Workers & Politics*, March 7, 2016
On Saturday, February 13, a rally took place to call on people to stand up against the cuts to council, care home and mental health services at Gateshead Civic Centre. One of the speakers, Stephen Luke, who represents the many families whose loved ones suffer from mental illness, spoke to raise awareness of the present changes to Mental Health Services. He started by saying these are not only the biggest changes in recent years but probably overall the most damaging to Mental Health Services in Gateshead and Newcastle. He said that over the last five years Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Trust "have already closed 459 mental health beds, which has contributed to all the remaining wards being full and over capacity". He pointed out from statistics he had investigated there had been "a 62% increase in violence towards staff, carers and family members and an increase in suicides, murder, restricted access to inpatient services and a reduction in recovery rates". He said that there had also been a "63% national increase of inpatient referrals under the Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, which means they must be hospitalised by law".
He condemned the fact that there is now "a national crisis where mental health inpatients are not only sent hundreds of miles from their locality but at times can no longer get a bed anywhere in the UK both in the NHS, or with private services. There are also more mentally ill people being detained in police cells and more being imprisoned." He pointed out that in spite of these severe and critical conditions Gateshead and Newcastle Commissioning Groups are proposing the potential closure of a further 40% of the remaining acute mental health beds and proposing to remove the remaining beds to out of locality areas in Sunderland and Morpeth. He called on people to oppose the closures and stop this decision being made by the Gateshead CCG on May 24.
As we pointed out in NEWP in the last issue supplement, the fraudulent austerity arguments that the health care of the people is too costly must be rejected. The people must assert their claim that health care is a right in a modern society and must be funded as a priority over the schemes of the rich. The people must continue to strengthen their organised resistance and expose further this whole assault on the mental well being of the people, defend public authority and bring the inhuman perpetrators of theses criminal plans at the heart of government and elsewhere to account. The people must continue their fight to safeguard mental health services.
North East Workers & Politics is a publication of the Northern Region of RCPB(ML).