The British Medical Association (BMA) has published its report ‘State of the health system – Beds in the NHS’. And it emphasises the dire state our health system is in. As one graph shows, the number of NHS hospital beds in England is at a historic low. And beds for mental health patients are particularly scarce.
The NHS in England now has the lowest number of beds since records began.
— Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) December 4, 2017
‘Cracks within the NHS’
The BMA’s paper provides evidence of “cracks within the NHS” and the “increasing pressures on the system in each nation”. In England:
Between quarter two of 2010/11 and quarter two 2016/17, the number of overnight beds fell by 14,000. Over the same period, the number of mental health beds fell by a fifth.
In September 2017, at least 760 patients were receiving inpatient mental health treatment away from their local area.
In Scotland, patients with mental illness have also been considerably affected. The paper underscores a 33% decrease in the number of mental health beds since 2007.
Still no parity of esteem
On 1 March, Theresa May claimed:
It is this Conservative government that has introduced parity of esteem in relation to dealing with mental health in the National Health Service.
Parity of esteem means ensuring that mental health is on an equal footing with physical health. But as much as the prime minister may boast about looking out for people’s well-being, the BMA paper suggests otherwise. If anything, government policies have been counterproductive. For example, the factors that lead to poor mental health among children – such as poverty – have increased significantly since the Tories came to power in 2010.
The government isn’t simply failing to address the root causes of poor mental health or issues with mental health services. We can see all the time how the Conservatives’ commitment to austerity is making matters worse. The BMA paper is the latest piece of evidence to back this up.
– Read more articles from The Canary on the NHS.
– Join us, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Flickr
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?