Helena Dollimore, Labour's candidate for Hastings and Rye, has released data showing the huge numbers of local people stuck on mental health waiting lists, as calls grow for the government to address their failed handling of mental health services across the country.
Since 2010, the Conservative government has cut one in four mental health beds, as waiting times for treatment soar. There were 16,895 children on waiting lists in December and 36,750 adults in the area covered by the NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board.
Many mental health services are at breaking point – staff are overstretched, and NHS services have been neglected for over a decade. Hundreds of thousands of people are turned away from services without having any treatment.
In December in Sussex, 5,985 referrals were closed before the patient received any treatment: a staggering number.
Helena Dollimore, Labour candidate for Hastings and Rye, said:
"These figures demonstrate just how much our community, and our children, are suffering after 13 years of Conservative government. Children should not be languishing in A&E because they can't receive treatment in the community.
"Our children deserve better – it's why the next Labour government will enshrine a preventative approach to mental health, opening mental health hubs for children and young people locally and making sure that all of our local schools have access to a mental health professional.
“Labour has a plan to tackle these problems, by recruiting thousands more mental health staff, guaranteeing treatment within a month, providing access to a mental health professional in every school.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said:
“Waiting lists are soaring and patients are left receiving inadequate treatment, all as a result of the government failing on children’s mental health. Once again, it’s the most vulnerable paying the price for the Tories’ shocking neglect.
“After 13 years of Conservative mismanagement of our NHS, children are being left to languish in Emergency Departments, instead of receiving appropriate mental health treatment. Mental health services are now on their knees."
“The next Labour government will prioritise a truly preventative plan for mental health services and will put patient care first. We will ensure access to mental health professionals in every school and put an open access hub in every community, funded by closing tax loopholes."
“This is in addition to guaranteeing mental health treatment within a month for all who need it, by recruiting thousands of new mental health staff.”