The Shock of the Fall recently won “Popular Fiction Book of the Year” at the National Book Awards.
The reception was at 11 Downing Street so I used my speech to talk about this government’s woeful underfunding of mental health care. Only the day before the ceremony the Royal College of Nursing issued a major report warning we’re “turning back the clock on mental health services”. There was a time in this country where poorly people were left to cope alone until they became so unwell that they needed to be sectioned and locked up in institutions. We are returning to those days.
Mental health care has always been chronically underfunded but since 2010, under this government, the cuts have been even deeper. We’ve seen thousands of bed closures, representing a 6% reduction during the same period that there has been a 30% increase in demand. We’ve seen a loss of 3,300 nursing jobs. We’ve seen cuts to early intervention and crisis resolution services, placing an ever greater demand on the police and A&E services – which is more costly in the long term, making the whole exercise a false economy. It’s myopic, it’s cruel and it is ruining people’s lives.
I’ve written about all this stuff before but I was pleased to get the opportunity to say it in the belly of the beast, as it were.