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Radiographers call for ‘immediate action’ to tackle lack of mental health support

05 September 2018

A campaign to improve funding for mental health will be launched at this year’s TUC conference to ensure that the ‘needs are met of the most vulnerable in our society’.

A conference motion from the Society of Radiographers and UNISON will condemn the lack of trained staff or funding for mental health in the NHS.

Gareth Thomas, the Society’s immediate past president, who will be speaking during the debate, said that “Patients who cannot afford to pay for private healthcare are waiting for essential help in their time of greatest need.

“The mental health crisis can only be properly addressed by adopting an holistic approach which must involve not just the NHS, but also social care, education, youth work, housing and policing,” he continued.

“NHS funding for mental health has gone down by 8 per cent in real terms since 2010 and the number of people seeking help each year has jumped by 500,000 since then to 1.7 million.”

The motion will ask for government and employers to act to strengthen employment rights for mental health patients.

“We must have improvements in how employers are tackling the causes of work-related stress, which can cause or exacerbate mental ill health, Gareth Thomas said.

“The rise in insecure work, the fall in real wages and the frequent removal of sick pay provisions are all factors which have contributed significantly to the mental health crisis.”

The Society and UNISON are calling for a united trade union response to mental health issues both in the community and in the workplace, compelling employers to take responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.

They also want a conference on mental health in the workplace to bring together unions and organisations specialising in mental health issues and to set up a cross-union working group to share best practice and co-ordinate campaigning work.

ENDS

Notes for Editor

1. Draft composite TUC Motions 63: Mental Health crisis and 64: Mental Health Congress believes the government’s claim to have brought about “parity of esteem” between mental and physical health in England lies in tatters. Recent UK polling shows that concern about mental health has doubled in the last year. The systemic underfunding of mental health services, beds and training provision has had a progressive and continuing detrimental impact on both staff and service users at the same time as austerity generally has contributed to increasing mental ill health. Congress shares the concerns of MPs that proposals to transform mental health care for young people through maximum waiting times and improved support in schools will take too long to effect real change and fails to address the wider population. Congress is alarmed that yet again the crucial issue of improved social care funding has been postponed, with the green paper delayed until autumn 2018. Congress believes the mental health crisis can only be properly addressed by adopting an holistic approach that involves not just the NHS, but also social care, education, youth work, housing and also policing. Congress welcomes improvements in awareness of mental health with long-held taboos beginning to be overcome. The increase in the level of awareness has led to a spike in those seeking help and put a strain on NHS mental health services. The lack of any appreciable increase in trained staff or funding for mental health amount to real-terms cuts. Those that cannot afford to pay for private services are waiting for essential help in their time of highest need. Many GPs suggest that vulnerable people seek help from workplace occupational health departments as an alternative to mainstream services. However, this shifts the burden of responsibility to already stretched services that were never designed to take the overspill or to act as a stopgap for NHS services. Many workers, including freelance and atypical workers, have no access to any workplace occupational health or support services. Congress asserts that mental health is also a workplace issue and that there is a need to ensure improvements in how employers are tackling the causes of work-related stress, which can cause or exasperate mental ill health. The rise in insecure work, the fall in real wages and the frequent removal of sick pay provisions are all factors which have contributed significantly to the mental health crisis. Congress supports a campaign to ensure that there are sufficient staff and facilities to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. Congress calls on the General Council to: i. campaign for improved mental health funding across the UK, working with service users and community groups; ii. lobby for the RIDDOR system to be changed so that work-related stress absence is reportable; iii. campaign to ensure that Government and employers take action to address the mental health implications of poor employment protections; iv. work with affiliates to organise a concerted trade union response on mental health and wellbeing that expects employers to conduct risk assessments that identify workplace and other risk factors and underlying causes of the condition, before making a commitment to address recommendations; v. organise a one day conference in 2019 on mental health in the workplace to bring together unions and organisations specialising in mental health issues; vi. set up a cross-union working group on mental health to share best practice and co-ordinate campaigning work. 2. The Society of Radiographers is the trade union and professional body for radiographers and all non-medical members of the workforce in diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy in the UK. It is responsible for their professional, educational, public and workplace interests. www.sor.org
 3. The TUC Congress 2018 takes place from Sunday, 9 September-Wednesday, 12 September, Manchester Central Convention Complex https://www.tuc.org.uk/tuc-congress-2018 For further information contact Dominic Deeson on 0795 784 5238, email dominic@deeson.co.uk

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