The Liberal Democrats today pledged to “radically transform mental health services” if they are elected to government.
The party’s manifesto says a Liberal Democrat government would build on the work started by the coalition to establish parity between mental and physical health services.
The ‘transformation’ would include extending the use of personal budgets, integrating care more fully with the rest of the NHS, the introduction of rigorous inspections and high-quality standards.
There would also be more comprehensive data collection to track outcomes and changes to the way services are funded so mental health does not lose out in future funding decisions.
The manifesto also says the Liberal Democrats would revolutionise children’s mental health by spending £250m a year on implementing the proposals in the coalition government’s children and young people’s mental health taskforce report.
Frontline public service workers would also get better training on mental health.
On integrating health and social care, the Lib Dems promised to ensure social care and health budgets were fully pooled by 2018 through local agreements. At a national level, the Department of Health would take responsibility for funding adult social care from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The party also pledged to combine public health, adult social care and health outcome frameworks into a single national wellbeing outcomes framework. This, the manifesto says, would ensure the NHS and local government worked towards common goals.
A statutory code of conduct, backed up by a care workers’ suitability register, would be established to “ensure those who work in the care sector are properly trained and suitable to practice”.
The manifesto also says the fast-track social worker training programme Frontline would be expanded to 300 graduates a year. The Labour and the Conservative manifestos have also pledged to continue supporting the programme.
Social care pledges
Other social care pledges included in the Liberal Democrat manifesto include:
- training for social workers in areas with high prevalence of female genital mutilation or forced marriage to help those at risk;
- implementing provisions to cap the cost of social care through the Care Act;
- free end-of-life social care for those placed on their local end-of-life register, if evidence shows it is affordable and cost effective;
- raising the professional status and training of care home managers through statutory licensing;
- better support and training for foster carers, including on mental health issues;
- promoting restorative justice to prevent looked-after children being drawn into the criminal justice system;
- increasing access to cost-effective talking therapies so “hundreds of thousands” more people can get this support, with an interim target of getting 25% of those suffering from mental health problems into treatment;
- the creation of a £50m “world-leading” mental health research fund;
- a ‘five-a-day’-style campaign to improve wellbeing and prevent mental illness.