Category Archives: Health

Mike Storey: young people’s lives are too important to ignore mental health services in schools

Lord Storey
Lord Storey

Mike Storey, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson, hosted a debate in the Lords yesterday on mental health services in schools and colleges. He opened the debate saying:

I think that this is the fourth or fifth time in almost as many days that we have talked about mental health, which perhaps shows how important the matter is to your Lordships and that there is a need for action. No doubt there has been and will be repetition in what we all say but, again, that tells me how important the issue is. I also put on record my thanks to the numerous organisations that feel passionately about the issue and have sent a whole series of briefings.

Despite having one of the most advanced health systems in the world, child health outcomes in the UK, including for mental health, are among the poorest. Just 6% of the NHS budget for mental health is spent on children and young people. I know we have heard them on a number of occasions in the various Questions and debates, but we should remind ourselves of some of the facts. One in 10 children and young people aged five to 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder, which equates to three children in every classroom. One in every 12 to 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm, and nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression. Alarmingly, all these figures are on the increase. Yet despite these figures, a freedom of information request from YoungMinds sent to every NHS clinical commissioning group and every upper-tier local authority in England found that 74 out of 96 NHS clinical commissioning groups have frozen or cut their CAMHS budgets in the last two years, while 56 out of 101 local authorities in England that supplied information to YoungMinds have cut or frozen their budgets, or increased them by less than inflation, during the same period. We ignore the situation at our peril.

Continue reading Mike Storey: young people’s lives are too important to ignore mental health services in schools

Brian Paddick: The Lib Dems are the only party prepared to tackle the harm drugs cause

Lord Paddick
Lord Paddick

Liberal Democrats today attacked the blinkered Tory approach to drugs policy as they tabled a series of amendments to the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the House of Lords.

The party will call on the Conservatives to delay new laws until a full review is carried out into how existing legislation is failing to stop the harm caused by drugs.

They will urge the Conservatives to build on the health-based approach to drugs misuse championed by the Liberal Democrats in Coalition and abandon their failing ‘get tough’ policies.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Brian Paddick, who has tabled the amendments, is calling for:

  • the Government to delay moves to ban legal highs until an independent, evidence-based review of existing laws is carried out, allowing proper drafting of the legislation
  • the decriminalisation of  possession of all drugs for personal use
  • the legalisation of medicinal use of cannabis when it is prescribed by a doctor

Continue reading Brian Paddick: The Lib Dems are the only party prepared to tackle the harm drugs cause

Claire Tyler: The current state of mental health crisis care is not just unfortunate it is unfair (via Politics Home)

Baroness Tyler of Enfield
Baroness Tyler of Enfield

Writing for Politics Home, the Lib Dem Spokesperson for Mental Health, Baroness Claire Tyler, responds to the Care Quality Commission’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ report.

When people experiencing mental health crises don’t have access to the sort of timely, effective, and compassionate care that people with physical health problems do, it’s not just unfortunate—it’s unfair. The Care Quality Commission’s Right Here, Right Now report is a timely assessment of the current state of mental health crisis care and frankly it makes for pretty sobering reading.

Last year, and greatly to their credit, Norman Lamb as Minister, local government and leaders of key services signed up to the 2014 Mental Health Crisis Concordat. In doing so, they agreed to work towards making sure that compassionate and understanding crisis care would be available 24/7; that a mental health crisis would be treated with the same urgency as a physical health crisis; that people should be treated with dignity and respect in an environment that is conducive to their needs; and that appropriate follow-up services would be provided.

But as the CGC’s report demonstrates, we still have a long way to go in meeting these goals. Only 14% of those who responded to the CGC survey said that the crisis care they received provided the right response and helped resolve their crisis. Too often, appropriate services are not available in a timely manner or patients are passed between multiple services before they can finally receive help. The same survey reports that 32% of people were unsure who to contact in a crisis. As a result, many individuals turn to A&E because they have nowhere else to go.

The full article can be found here

Paul Burstow and Claire Tyler: Standardised tobacco packaging (via Lib Dem Voice)

Baroness Tyler of Enfield
Baroness Tyler of Enfield

Do you know only one in ten smokers in the UK started after the age of 19, and two in five of smoking habits started before 16?

Every year, more than 100,000 people die from smoking related diseases across UK; at the same time, 200,000 children aged 11-15 are risking their health and spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds a year on this toxic habit.

When smokers take up in their early years, they face more serious health impacts and find it harder to quit, so reversing this alarming trend has to be one of our biggest priorities in public health. And that’s why the Lib Dems have fought hard over years to get us all ahead of the curve. Thanks to hard work from colleagues across Parliament, in the past ten years the UK has banned tobacco companies from using most forms of advertising – including sponsoring sport teams – and put the display of tobacco products in shops under control while Paul was Health Minister.

Then it was true that the health and economic benefits of stopping tobacco displays far outweigh the costs, and the same is true of standardising cigarette package designs now. The unconscious trigger of attractive packaging is an extremely successful marketing tool that encourages children and young people to glamourise and take up smoking. Bright colours, sleek designs and slim cigarettes, to name a few, all make people falsely believe that such cigarettes are less harmful. Attractive packaging is responsible for one in 20 people who take up the habit and a matter of 2,000 lives in the UK each year.

The full article is available here

Letter of the Lords – 2 March 2015

This week’s newsletter on the work of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords

To subscribe to this email please contact

Letter of the Lords 2 February 2015

This week’s newsletter on the work of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords


To subscribe to this email please contact

Letter of the Lords – 19 January 2015

This week’s newsletter on the work of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords


To subscribe to this email please contact


Baroness Suttie: All governments must act on tuberculosis threat (via Ad Lib Blog)

Baroness Suttie
Baroness Suttie

Like all 13 or 14 year olds of my generation in the UK I had my BCG vaccination while I was at High School. I remember that we all compared our scars for months afterwards. We believed at that time that TB – like smallpox – could be eradicated from our society.

TB, or consumption, was supposed to be an illness of poverty of times gone by. In Victorian Britain it was known as ‘the silent killer’ and as many as one in four deaths was attributable to TB. So high was the TB death rate, in fact, that TB has been estimated to have killed more people than any other infectious disease in human history.

Last Thursday I instigated a short debate in the House of Lords on what the Government is doing to reduce rates of TB in the UK. Baroness Sarah Ludford also spoke in the debate and focussed on the particularly high incidence of TB in London and Baroness Judith Jolly replied for the Government.

The full article is available here

Letter of the Lords – 8 December 2014

Lindsay Northover: Violence against women and girls – change is in the air

Baroness Northover
Baroness Northover

If you were to ask me for a country that has undergone real change in the last quarter of a century, I would be hard pushed to think of a greater example than South Africa.

I’ve been to South Africa a few times, the first in 1989. Since then, the country has come a very long way. It has become an economic powerhouse and a country with which the UK now has a relationship of mutual cooperation – sharing knowledge, expertise and skills, rather than providing aid.

And yet, like every other country, South Africa still faces challenges. To galvanise action on the international day for the elimination of violence against women and girls last week, I went back to South Africa to look at the causes and extent of gender-based violence and inequality.

50% of women in South Africa have experienced violence. And a shocking 39% of men admit to having carried out acts of violence against women.

Yet on this issue, too, things are starting to change.

The first thing that struck me was how passionate and committed local civil society organisations were in their work to end violence against women and girls. Many of these organisations are leaders in gender development policy not only in South Africa, but across the continent.

One of these organisations is GenderLinks, a coalition of civil society groups promoting gender equality across Southern Africa.

I was a privileged to meet a dedicated group of campaigners from Genderlinks, including a survivor who had been raped 3 times, on the last occasion contracting HIV.

Lindsay’s full DFID blog post is available here