Tag Archives: treatment’

Could the future of mental health treatment be digital?

Business incubator Zinc gathers 55 people from 19 countries to rethink the world’s approach to treating mental illness

Zinc


Fixing a hole. Illustration: Blok Magnaye

Will Tanner is building a web hub for those who care for the mentally distressed. Billie Quinlan wants to make women happier with a digital sex guru. Rajshekar Patil is devising tools to help children moderate screen time. Rachel Thomas aims to change how people think using online modules.

In a speed-pitching session (like Dragon’s Den on fast-forward with better coffee and fewer self-interested billionaires) these and 20 similar propositions are rattled out by teams of two or three people who met only weeks ago.

Other ideas include proposals for improving maternal mental health, revamping social care and getting people active, as well as various “digital assistants” to help prevent burnout, manage money or plan retirement.

The proponents are an ultra-qualified class of 2018 – 55 people from 19 countries, doctors, data scientists, software developers and serial entrepreneurs who have been selected for an intense six-month programme under the aegis of Zinc, a business incubator with a social mission.

The aim is ambitious: to rethink the world’s approach to mental health treatment.

Quick guide

About this series

What is The Upside?

News doesn’t always have to be bad – indeed, the relentless focus on confrontation, disaster, antagonism and blame risks convincing the public that the world is hopeless and there is nothing we can do.

This series is an antidote, an attempt to show that there is plenty of hope, as our journalists scour the planet looking for pioneers, trailblazers, best practice, unsung heroes, ideas that work, ideas that might and innovations whose time might have come.

Readers can follow up with our Further Reading guides and can also recommend other projects, people and progress that we should report on, by filling out the form at the bottom of the article.

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And how it needs rethinking. Mental illness has emerged as a ubiquitous, universal scourge in recent years. No country or social group is immune. Nowhere has got to grips with how to treat the millions who fall ill every year. Health systems are stretched to helplessness. Mental health is still a poor relation of physical health. Pills are a scattergun approach. Therapy is costly, woefully inaccessible, even in rich countries.

In short, this is a crisis that is ripe for innovation. That’s where Zinc comes in. “We believe that too many important social problems are left to governments and charities to fix, and too many of them don’t get fixed,” says Paul Kirby, who founded Zinc last year with venture capitalist Saul Klein and marketing strategist Ella Goldner.

“Solutions often rely on individuals, families, local communities, employers and other having the motivation, opportunities and capabilities to change things for themselves,” Kirby added.

One thing people who suddenly succumb to mental illness often complain about is not just the lack of clinical help but the paucity of information on what is available – locally, nationally, publicly, privately.

Zinc


Will Tanner and business partner Ben Grace Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Jim Woods reckons the answer is a proper platform for services – a sort of “moneysupermarket.com for mental health” as he puts it. The bewildered sufferer will get guidance on treatments, counsellors, self-help communities, apps, peer support and literature.

“We want to build a whole new global system for mental health. A platform with answers for people rich and poor,” says Woods, an entrepreneur and former CEO of the Yo! group. The aim is to offer prevention as well as cure, and Woods expects businesses to sign up to the platform because of the growing interest in preventing staff becoming sick.

“The NHS can only do reactive, fixing illnesses,” Woods says. “Prevention is the cheapest way.”

Others are more interested in the physical manifestations of mental unease. Take IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Gastro specialists admit there are few treatments for sufferers. Some doctors believe it is caused principally by a surfeit of stress.

“IBS is all about stress, and with technology we can deliver tools that can alleviate symptoms,” says Jossy Onwade, a 27-year-old Nigerian doctor, who left his home and family and came to London for the first time to take on the challenge.

Zinc


Jossy Onwade and partner Elena Mustatea Photograph: Mark Rice-Oxley for the Guardian

Indeed, many of the participants have left homes, jobs, spouses, children behind to pursue their ambitions. Aziz Lalljee left his wife in America for six months to try to realise his plan for “a new model of domiciliary social care that dignifies the carer and delights the receiver”.

“I’m here for as long as it takes for this to succeed,” he promises.

Of course, not all the ideas will get off the ground. Some do not seem terribly original: you wonder, for example, whether a world that already has a proliferation of mental health apps such as headspace and woebot needs any more or whether shattered minds in need of rest really need more digital stimulus.

The fact that these are businesses could also prove controversial: some will fail; some may make profits – from the mental discomfort of others.

Entrepreneur and investor Tuvi Orbach is already mentoring several groups with a view to buying stakes. “I will invest in a few of these companies because I believe they will be successful,” he says.

Zinc


A pitching session at Zinc Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Zinc aims to run 15 such programmes over the next five years, hoping to create as many as 200 new businesses to tackle pressing social issues in the developed world. It is currently raising money to support its programmes. “We are relying on a lot of goodwill,” says Kirby.

This article is part of a series on possible solutions to the world’s biggest problems. What else should we cover?

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here.

Tessa Jowell is right about cancer treatment: Britain must do better | Christina Patterson

On 24 May last year, Tessa Jowell found she could not speak. Two days later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Two weeks after that, the tumour was cut out. Six months on, she can’t say she was cured, but she sure as hell could speak this week.

“I don’t think I immediately leapt to the inevitability of cancer,” she told Nick Robinson on the Today programme on Wednesday. “To begin with, I thought I would have this tumour, that it would be operated on and that would be it.” That, it turned out, was not it. Now her life, she said, was “affected” by her tumour. “How do I know,” she asked, “how long it’s going to last.”

She was talking to Nick Robinson about the speech she was going to give to the House of Lords. She would, she said, be talking about the importance of adaptive trials – trials that allow you to try more than one treatment. If one wasn’t working, she said, you should be free to try a different one, even if it hadn’t yet been fully tried and tested. That, she explained, was how you got the “pace of change”. It was a risk that patients should be free to take, because risks look different when time is like a ticking clock that’s about to wind down.


Public money has to be geared towards what has been tested to save us from snake oil and expensive false hope

When she finished giving that speech on Thursday, every single person in that chamber leapt to their feet. The standing ovation lasted for a full minute. Doreen Lawrence was among the people seen wiping away a tear. Doreen Lawrence, whose son was slaughtered by thugs at the age of 18.

At the end of her speech, Tessa Jowell quoted the poet Seamus Heaney. “Noli timere, he said in a text to his beloved wife, Marie – the last words of a man who won a Nobel prize for his words. ‘Do not be afraid.’” Tessa Jowell’s blue eyes blazed as she repeated his words. “I am not,” she said, “afraid.”

She didn’t want the room’s pity. She didn’t even want the room’s respect, though it certainly makes a nice change to get it when you’ve spent most of your professional life as a politician. What she wanted was more help for other people with cancer: more shared knowledge, faster diagnosis, wider access to experimental treatments, better survival rates (we currently have the worst in western Europe) and for us all to be part of a “human-sized picture”, where the “community of love” created by patients was mirrored in the NHS.

You couldn’t argue with any of it. Well, perhaps you could argue about the experimental treatments. This is a difficult area, as we all know from the tragic case last summer of Charlie Gard. Public money has to be geared towards what has been tested to save us from snake oil and expensive false hope. But the point was not the technicalities. This was not a policy speech. It was a cry from the heart to all of us for more kindness, more humanity and more compassion. It was a cry from a woman who embodies the qualities she would like us all to seek.

In every life, there are moments of clarity. For those of us who have had cancer, that clarity sometimes comes sooner than we think. Sometimes, as treatments work and the years pass, it fades. Sometimes, you can almost have nostalgia for the piercing intensity of that time before it fades. When I was recovering from cancer for the second time, and was afraid that I would die alone, I learned how much I was loved. I also learned that nothing is more precious.

Being brave, said the poet Philip Larkin in his poem Aubade, “lets no one off the grave”. We are all going to die, and about half of us will get cancer first. “In the end,” said Jowell, “what gives a life meaning is not only how it is loved, but how it draws to a close.” Well, Amen to that.

Christina Patterson is a writer, broadcaster and columnist

What are your experiences of eating disorder treatment? Tell us

We want to hear about the care you have received in England. Share your stories with us

nhs signs


We want to hear from those who have been treated for an eating disorder Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

More than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by eating an disorder, according to a 2015 report commissioned by the charity Beat.

But getting help can be hard and experts have warned that NHS specialist services are struggling to cope with a growing caseload. Funding can be an issue and a recent report found that Mental health care providers continue to receive far smaller budget increases than hospitals.

Share your experiences

We want to hear from those who have been treated for an eating disorder. What treatment is available where you are? Has a family member been sent far away for care due to a lack of beds? What services are available locally? Share your experiences. We will use some of your responses in our reporting.

If you cannot access the form, share your experiences here.

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by a shortage of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by a shortage of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

NHS cancer hospital may have to delay or reduce treatment

An NHS cancer hospital may have to make patients wait to undergo chemotherapy, or reduce the amount of treatment that dying patients receive, because it has so few nurses, a leaked memo has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the prospect of the Churchill hospital in Oxford in effect rationing life-extending and potentially life-saving chemotherapy was “deeply worrying”, especially for people dying of the disease.

The warning is thought to be unprecedented in cancer care. It is set out in an email from Dr Andrew Weaver, the chemotherapy lead, to fellow cancer specialists at the hospital.

Sent on 3 January, Weaver refers to the difficulties on the day treatment unit (DTU) caused by it being drastically short of specialist cancer nurses who administer chemotherapy.

He makes clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

Weaver writes: “Currently we are down approximately 40% on the establishment of nurses on DTU and as a consequence we are having to delay chemotherapy patients’ starting times to four weeks.”

Two types of cancer patients will continue to receive their chemotherapy as normal: dying patients undergoing their first course of chemotherapy and those who are receiving it in addition to other cancer treatment, such as surgery or radiotherapy.

In future, however, dying patients could receive less chemotherapy as a result of the lack of nurses.

Weaver said: “We propose that for second, third and fourth line palliative treatments the cycle length is increased by one or two weeks and/or the total number of cycles administered is reduced – for example, where normally six cycles are given then teams should consider reducing to four cycles in total.

“I know that many of us will find it difficult to accept these changes but the bottom line is that the current situation with limited numbers of staff is unsustainable in the short, medium and long term. Sadly we cannot see the staffing levels on DTU improving for at least 18-24 months.”

Q&A

Does the UK have enough doctors and nurses?

The UK has fewer doctors and nurses than many other comparable countries both in Europe and worldwide. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britain comes 24th in a league table of 34 member countries in terms of the number of doctors they have relative to their populations. Greece, Austria and Norway have the most; the three countries with proportionately the fewest medics are Turkey, Chile and Mexico. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, regularly points out that the NHS in England has more doctors and nurses than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010. That is true, although there are now fewer district nurses, mental health nurses and other types of health professionals.

NHS unions and health thinktanks point out that rises in NHS staff’s workloads have outstripped the increases in overall staff numbers. Hospital bosses say that understaffing is now their number one problem, even ahead of lack of money and pressure to meet exacting NHS-wide performance targets. Hunt has recently acknowledged that, and Health Education England, the NHS’s staffing and training agency, last month published a workforce strategy intended to tackle the problem.

Read a full Q&A on the NHS winter crisis

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s chief nursing officer, said patients’ lives could be shortened if the hospital implemented Weaver’s proposals.

“Such a situation is deeply worrying and delays cause untold distress to patients. A group who may be particularly affected by such a decision would be those who have treatable but not curable cancer.

“Chemotherapy can help relieve their symptoms, extend survival and enable people to spend precious time with their family. If access to treatment is reduced, all these factors may be affected.”

Oxford Universty hospitals NHS trust, which runs the Churchill, said it had not decided to implement any of the suggested measures, but did not rule out doing so.

“We have not made any decisions to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or to reduce the number of cycles of chemotherapy treatment which patients with cancer receive,” it said in a statement.

“We would like to reassure our patients that no changes to chemotherapy treatment have been made or will be made before thorough consideration has been given to all possible options.”

David Bailey, a nurse with the trust who is being treated for cancer at the Churchill, said the high vacancy rate for cancer nurses, and any consequent reduction in chemotherapy, would affect the outcomes for patients..

“I am lucky, I’m part of a clinical trial, which will not be affected; but how frightening is this for other, newly diagnosed cancer patients?”

The treatment of prisoners with mental health problems is a national shame | Eric Allison

The news that living conditions at Liverpool prison are the worst that jail inspectors have ever seen will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent time there. The gaunt Victorian pile on Hornby Road, in the Walton area of the city, was always known as the dirtiest jail in the system.

Most of the old jails have a cockroach problem, but Liverpool took the infestation to a new low, with cell floors carpeted with them, as they came out at night to feed off the crumbs. I experienced those conditions some 20 years ago. With prison budgets still reeling from the cuts imposed by former justice secretary Chris Grayling, it can hardly be imagined that conditions have improved since my time there. According to a leaked report on Liverpool, some areas of the jail were so filthy and hazardous they were beyond cleaning.

The chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, spoke of a prisoner with complex mental health needs, caged in a cell that had no furniture other than a bed. The cell windows were broken, as was the light fitting. The toilet was filthy and blocked and electrical wires were exposed in his “dark and damp” living space. He had been held in these conditions for weeks.

Conditions such as these would challenge the wellbeing of prisoners in good health. To impose them on prisoners suffering mental health problems is taking punishment to a shameful and degrading level.

For some years now, I have been saying that mental health is the biggest single problem facing a prison service beset with difficulties. I saw it coming back in the 1980s, when the Thatcher government closed many of the old asylums and, supposedly, replaced them with care in the community. We know what happened there. Mental health became – and still is – the poor relation of the NHS, and many of those suffering end up on the streets and in our prisons.


Prisoners miss an average of 15% of medical appointments because there are not enough staff to escort them

And our political masters cannot say they are unaware of the problem. The Commons public accounts committee this month published a report saying that the record levels of self-harm and deaths are a “damning indictment” of the state of mental health provision in jails across England and Wales. The committee found that long-standing understaffing and increased prevalence of drugs in jails have led to deep-rooted failures in the management of mental health.

Shockingly, MPs concluded that, while the prison service and NHS England have a duty of care to prisoners, they “do not know where they are starting from, how well they are doing or whether their current plans will be enough to succeed”.

Incredibly, the most commonly used data, used to estimate the scale of the problem within our prisons, is 20 years old, when the prison population was about half of what it is today. Yet the committee found that governments efforts to improve the mental health of prisoners so far have been poorly coordinated, with information not shared, not even between community and prison GP services. Prisoners miss an average of 15% of medical appointments because there are not enough staff to escort them. Yet the loss of staff continues to outstrip recruitment in many jails.

The chair of the committee, Meg Hillier, said the appalling toll of self-inflicted deaths and self-harm in prisons can be laid at the deep-rooted failures in the management of prisoners’ mental health.

When The NHS replaced the prison medical service and took responsibility for healthcare in prisons in 2000, it seemed a change for the better. Prisoners come from the community and are released back there. It never made sense for them to be treated by a different health service while locked up. But it is no coincidence that a struggling NHS, particularly the mental health sector, is failing to cope with the demands of thousands of prisoners in need of therapeutic care. There are no votes to be won behind bars.

Deborah Coles is the director of the charity Inquest and sees, more than most, the results caused by the neglect of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. She says that alternatives to prison must be found for those suffering mental health problems and a more therapeutic response for those for whom prison is the last resort.

Can we hope her words will be heeded? On Monday, the justice secretary, David Lidington, gave a speech to the thinktank Reform. He said the “overriding trigger” for the levels of violence, self-harm and disorder inside prisons in England and Wales was “the availability of drugs, including new psychoactive substances and other contraband”.

On mental health, the minister had nothing to say.

He should be taken to that filthy cell in Liverpool and made to explain his failure to master his brief to that prisoner with complex mental health needs; to whom, I remind him, he owes a duty of care.

Eric Allison is the Guardian’s prison correspondent

NHS England board must now reaffirm their pledge on mental health treatment | Letters

Mental health care is not a luxury. For too long it has been the “Cinderella service”, always forgotten when resources are being handed out and the first to be cut when times are hard. In recent years, with cross-party momentum behind it, finally mental health is beginning to get the attention it deserves.

Earlier this month Simon Stevens suggested the promised expansion of mental health care might be under threat if there was no new money for the NHS. Following the budget, we call on him to give a guarantee to the million additional people promised mental health treatment that they will not be abandoned. We are around two years into a five-year plan for mental health and it is vital that work continues. You would not stop helping a patient midway through their treatment and you must not stop the process of improving mental health care just because other parts of the NHS are under pressure.

As politicians from across the political spectrum, we call on the NHS England board to use Thursday’s meeting to reaffirm their commitment to people with mental health problems.
Helen Whately MP
Conservative; chair of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health
Norman Lamb MP
Liberal Democrat; chair of the science and technology committee and former minister with responsibility for mental health
Luciana Berger MP
Labour; president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health

Your report says that the health secretary plans to overhaul NHS staff pay “including how much they receive for working antisocial shifts” (Hunt provokes another row over NHS pay, 29 November). Could I suggest that the shifts are unsocial and it is Jeremy Hunt’s continued attacks on the NHS that are antisocial?
Roy Grimwood
Market Drayton, Shropshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

NHS England board must now reaffirm their pledge on mental health treatment | Letters

Mental health care is not a luxury. For too long it has been the “Cinderella service”, always forgotten when resources are being handed out and the first to be cut when times are hard. In recent years, with cross-party momentum behind it, finally mental health is beginning to get the attention it deserves.

Earlier this month Simon Stevens suggested the promised expansion of mental health care might be under threat if there was no new money for the NHS. Following the budget, we call on him to give a guarantee to the million additional people promised mental health treatment that they will not be abandoned. We are around two years into a five-year plan for mental health and it is vital that work continues. You would not stop helping a patient midway through their treatment and you must not stop the process of improving mental health care just because other parts of the NHS are under pressure.

As politicians from across the political spectrum, we call on the NHS England board to use Thursday’s meeting to reaffirm their commitment to people with mental health problems.
Helen Whately MP
Conservative; chair of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health
Norman Lamb MP
Liberal Democrat; chair of the science and technology committee and former minister with responsibility for mental health
Luciana Berger MP
Labour; president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health

Your report says that the health secretary plans to overhaul NHS staff pay “including how much they receive for working antisocial shifts” (Hunt provokes another row over NHS pay, 29 November). Could I suggest that the shifts are unsocial and it is Jeremy Hunt’s continued attacks on the NHS that are antisocial?
Roy Grimwood
Market Drayton, Shropshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

NHS England board must now reaffirm their pledge on mental health treatment | Letters

Mental health care is not a luxury. For too long it has been the “Cinderella service”, always forgotten when resources are being handed out and the first to be cut when times are hard. In recent years, with cross-party momentum behind it, finally mental health is beginning to get the attention it deserves.

Earlier this month Simon Stevens suggested the promised expansion of mental health care might be under threat if there was no new money for the NHS. Following the budget, we call on him to give a guarantee to the million additional people promised mental health treatment that they will not be abandoned. We are around two years into a five-year plan for mental health and it is vital that work continues. You would not stop helping a patient midway through their treatment and you must not stop the process of improving mental health care just because other parts of the NHS are under pressure.

As politicians from across the political spectrum, we call on the NHS England board to use Thursday’s meeting to reaffirm their commitment to people with mental health problems.
Helen Whately MP
Conservative; chair of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health
Norman Lamb MP
Liberal Democrat; chair of the science and technology committee and former minister with responsibility for mental health
Luciana Berger MP
Labour; president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health

Your report says that the health secretary plans to overhaul NHS staff pay “including how much they receive for working antisocial shifts” (Hunt provokes another row over NHS pay, 29 November). Could I suggest that the shifts are unsocial and it is Jeremy Hunt’s continued attacks on the NHS that are antisocial?
Roy Grimwood
Market Drayton, Shropshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters