A Sheffield MP has said young people in the city are waiting nearly six months to access mental health services – as headteachers dip into school budgets to bring in crisis support for pupils.
In a heated debate in Parliament, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, said Prime Minister Theresa May was being ‘deeply cynical’ by ‘raising hopes’ that she is planning to tackle the crisis in young people’s mental health, while ‘not providing the resources to do so’.
The Prime Minister announced a plan to overhaul mental health services in England.
In the proposals, she called it one of society’s ‘biggest injustices’ but Mr Blomfield said much more was needed in terms of funding.
In an exchange with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday night in the House of Commons, Mr Blomfield said: “Young people in Sheffield have for some time now been telling me that they are waiting 25 weeks for an appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
“Headteachers are telling me that they are digging into their budgets to buy in support for pupils in crisis, because they cannot access NHS services.
“Is it not deeply cynical for the Prime Minister to be raising hopes that we will be tackling the mental health crisis of our young people when the measures and the money that have been announced fall so desperately short of what we need?”
Responding to Mr Blomfield in Parliament, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It would be cynical if we raised hopes and had no intention of doing anything about the matter.
“What the Prime Minister said in her speech was that this was the start of a process.
“She pointed to those problems and said that we will have a Green Paper to look at how we deal with them in detail, which does take some time.
“I hope that we will get to a position when we can deal with those problems.
“We are lucky to have Professor Tim Kendall working in Sheffield, as he is the NHS lead mental health psychiatrist and a specialist in homelessness, and he is helping us to shape the strategy.”
Speaking after the Commons debate, Mr Blomfield added: “The priority is funding for proper services and that’s what Theresa May won’t offer.”