There are no more NHS rabbits coming out of the hat folks - a call to action for NHA Supporters
I don’t imagine that there were many combined ventures that the world-famous magician David Copperfield and my older brother Justin embarked upon together but one such moment was responsible for my lifelong mistrust of magicians. I was seven years old and sitting at home watching the magician David Copperfield, when all of a sudden he made the Statue of Liberty disappear. I obviously wasn't following his show particularly closely as this came as something of a surprise to me.
In fact, I was absolutely stunned.
To this day I remember shouting, "Oh my God, he’s made the statue of liberty disappear! Help!"
Hearing my shouts, my mum and my older brother rushed in, worried that something serious had happened in the lounge. Which, of course it had. I'd challenge anyone to refute the disappearance of the Statue of Liberty as an act of trivial significance.
"Mum, it's gone!”
"Calm down sweetie, what’s gone?”
"The Statue of Liberty, quick, someone do something.” The fact that I was under the impression that my mum and 12 year old brother had the capacity and infrastructure spend to mount a rescue of an international skyscraper suggests that I was some way from developing a sense of logistics.
"I’m sure he’ll put it back”, she said, and off she walked.
And my older brother? He told me that Copperfield had put it into space.
"But what about the people in it? They won’t have space suits”, I panicked.
"That’s right Carl, they’ll get eaten by space monsters”, he said, and walked away.
It took some years before I could say with any real certainty whether David Copperfield did actually expose the victims of his disappearance magic to death by space monster. However, I never managed to recalibrate any goodwill toward the masters of the dark art of magic.
And the trauma of this Copperfield-inspired trauma came rushing back to me this week as I read the paper. I found myself suddenly shouting, "How are you going to do that, get a bloody magician?", I apologised to the old lady at the bus stop for my sudden public outburst of coarse language.
I was reading about the response of the All Party Group on Mental Health to the recent report on the institutionalised failure of this government to young people with mental health problems.
The research that I was reading showed that 28% of children referred for support in England – including some who had attempted suicide – received no help at all. A review of mental health services by the children’s commissioner discovered also an average waiting time of 110 days.
So far, nothing yet to prick the ears of any seasoned witnesses of this government's neglect of children with mental health problems. After all, recent analysis released by YoungMinds revealed that millions of pounds had been cut from children and young people’s mental health services in the last year. Their research revealed 75% of Mental Health Trusts had frozen/cut their budgets between 2013/14 and 2014/15, 65% of Local Authorities had frozen/cut their budgets between 2013/14 and 2014/15 and over 1 in 5 Local Authorities had either frozen or had to cut their CAMHS (Children and Mental Health Services) budgets every year since 2010. The tens of millions in cuts equates to almost 2,000 staff that could otherwise be supporting mental health problems across the UK. In short, children’s mental health services have been savaged by government cuts for some time.
What interested me, however, was the response of James Morris, a Conservative MP, who chairs the all-party group on mental health. He called for an overhaul of services saying that there had been problems building up in the system for many years under governments of both political persuasions.
Okay folks, so let's focus on the three key words in that sentence.
Overhaul. Of. Services.
This particular form of denial has turned into a bit of a habit among public figures torn between their conscience and their politics - wanting action on desperate children whilst maintaining their political conviction toward the redundant ideology that is driving a de-funding wrecking ball through our national health care. They take refuge from this cognitive dissonance by snuggling under their NHS mismanagement duvet, all the while shielding themselves from the fact that no humans on earth could be expected to make a historically and already critically underfunded mental health service work after slashing its funding every single year of the last parliament.
So, my message to Mr Morris is the same as my message to all those who think they can have the luxury of speaking out for the children whose lives are being put at risk by the unnecessary cuts that they support.
That is, it would take nothing short of raw black magic to expect any kind of overhaul of services to make up for the chronic shortfall of funding that is now risking our children’s lives. I don't personally know David Copperfield but I suspect he'd rather try to make the Statue of Liberty moonwalk naked across his lounge than take on the responsibility of trying to make the hollowed-out shell of our child and adolescent mental health system function.
"So yes, I think we need to have a fundamental transformation of adolescent mental health services."
No, Mr Morris, we need your government to stop deliberately grinding them into the dirt to lay the groundwork for whichever private healthcare firm fancies picking up the slack. Unless Mr Morris has a yet-to-be-revealed plan to put Dynamo, David Blaine and Penn and Teller in charge of a national CAMHS revolution, then his all-party parliamentary group on Mental Health would be better to represent their electorate by pointedly criticising the child suffering and suicides upon which this government's surreptitious privatisation agenda is being shamefully built.
We are heading into the worst self-made children’s crisis since the workhouses closed. If we want to avoid this, stop calling for the impossible and, for god's sake, give these services the money they need to function.
Call to action
The chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Mental Health and 3 of its four vice-chairs are conservative MPs. If you have an interest in this issue and believe that this group should be actively speaking out against the defunding of child and adolescent mental health services then their details are below-
James Morris MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8715
Public Enquiry Point:
Chris Aikens, Office of James Morris MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 0207 219 8715