We were thrilled to be invited to take part in the recent ‘Stop the Cuts’ demonstration at Foyle Arena today.
The Western trust is set to make a total of 12.5 million of cuts to our NHS services as part of the controversial ‘savings plan’. While it isn’t clear exactly where these cuts will be made, our health service is clearly over stretched in many areas. This is highly evident in our current mental health service.
According to the British Medical Association:
- only 11% of the UK Health budget is spent on mental health care while mental health accounts for 23% of the disease burden in the UK.
- prescriptions for antidepressants has increased by 60% in Northern Ireland between 2000-2008.
- the rate of self harm has increased by 12% in 2012-2013 and to 30% in 2014-2015.
- in 2006 1 in 3 Northern Irish patients had to wait over 13 weeks for treatment.
- there has been significant reductions to acute patient mental health beds leading to over occupancy.
- due to lack of training for GPs there is limited knowledge about mental health services.
Our team attended the stop the cuts demonstration to ensure the voices of our members are heard. Our Committee member Ashleigh Coyle had the following to say:
“For a lot of our members, the only time they have the courage and drive to leave their home is when our coffee meetings are held. They know it is a confidential, non-judgmental & friendly environment. As I’ve already stated, we do this voluntarily, none of us are professionals but have been in their shoes at one stage or another so can only offer advice but it is a sad state of affairs when so many people in your home town are more comfortable speaking with a volunteer support group than seeking ‘professional medical help’ as they feel the system is
already failing them as it is.
With 504 people losing their life to suicide last year, I ask how we reduce this number with half of the budget? Mathematics would state that our number of suicides is sure to double.
I hear stories daily from people waiting 6 months, 18 months sometimes even 24 months to simply be assessed by a specific health professional. I ask again, how do we reduce this time with half of the budget?
We refuse to stand by and watch our members and many other mental health sufferers throughout Northern Ireland be let down by the government.
Prevention is better than a cure. Just because mental health is invisible doesn’t mean the sufferers are!”
DEMAND BETTER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES!
British Medical Association (April 2017) Breaking Down barriers: The challenge of improving mental health outcomes.