Author Archives: Paul Burstow

Paul Burstow writes…Care Act shows how Lib Dems in Government make society fairer

Knowing that you will receive the best care possible means the world to everyone who finds themselves or their loved ones in need of social care.

That is why I made it my first priority as Care Minister, and together with Norman Lamb – our current Care Minister – and other Lib Dem colleagues we have worked hard to reform our badly out of date care system and drag it into the twenty first century.

Today, that work reaches a major milestone with the Care Act coming into effect. As the independent health charity the Kings Fund put it, on social care “the coalition has made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen”.

The Care Act creates new rights and protections for people who need care and new rights for the friends and family who selflessly care for them. It puts in place for the first time a national rules to determine when a person is eligible for care ending the unfair postcode lottery that existed in the past. This means that  people with the same level of care needs will now be treated in the same way wherever they live. It also puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of all care decisions, and creates new responsibilities for local authorities to make sure that support is available to stop people developing care needs in the first place.

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Mental health and employment support must be available to all who need it

For most people, work plays a defining role in their lives. It provides structure, the money to live and enjoy life, and for the lucky ones, it can provide a sense of achievement and purpose. Every one of these elements is a component in supporting good mental health, and helps to explain in part the vicious cycle of mental ill-health and unemployment, as well as the critical role that employment can play in mental health recovery.

But it’s sadly not true to assume that work is always good for you mental health. Surveys have found the mild to moderate mental health problems – including stress, anxiety or depression – are the most common reasons people are signed off work, and mental ill health costs UK employers £26billion every year: £8.5billion in sickness absence, £15.1billion in lost productivity and £2.4billion in staff turnover. That’s an average of more than £1000 for every employee, so it’s in everybody’s interests to make sure that employers do everything they can to improve employees mental health, and to encourage them to seek support and treatment as soon as mental health problems develop. While there are some fantastic employers who ‘get’ mental health and its debilitating impact on their employees as well as their business, a recent survey conducted by CentreForum found that two thirds of people said they had been treated unfairly in keeping a job, and 75% said they had stopped themselves applying for work due to fear of discrimination. This needs to end.

That’s why the Mental Health Commission I chaired made the workplace one of our priorities for action. As we recommended, there should be a concerted effort to make UK businesses and services mental health friendly employers, with all organisations with more than 500 employees signing up to a mental health kitemark and 90% of these organisations on board by 2020. I am proud to be able to say that we established the first government funding for the Time to Change campaign – which works to end mental health discrimination – during my tenure as Minister responsible for mental health. It is fantastic that under Norman Lamb, the government have committed to continue funding this crucial work.  To maximise our impact, we now need to ensure that all public sector bodies have taken up the mantle, and use public sector procurement to filter this commitment throughout the distribution chain. At the same time, Norman Lamb has called on all FTSE 100 companies to sign up to the Time to Change initiative – and this is a call we should all echo.

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Paul Burstow MP writes…We must transform mental health services for young people #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015From day one of this government, Lib Dems have prioritised mental health, so long neglected and overlooked by previous governments. In 2011, I published the Coalition Government’s mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health. Four years on, that strategy has been translated into action by a succession of initiatives. Investing in expanding the adult talking therapies (IAPT) programme, building from scratch a children’s IAPT programme, putting in place liaison and diversion services investing in liaison psychiatry, the first ever waiting time standards for mental health and Nick’s announcement of an ambition for zero-suicides across the NHS.

Achieving parity of esteem is never going to be a quick win, we are making real progress and helping to set the agenda for any future government. Thanks to the Lib Dems there is now a challenge on mental health, and, with the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Task Force established by Norman Lamb reporting in March, there is an opportunity to establish a roadmap for real reform for children and young people in the next parliament.

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Paul Burstow MP writes…We need urgent action on home care

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThe extra £2 billion for health care services announced in the Autumn Statement last week is fantastic news. It is testament to Norman Lamb’s effective and high profile campaigning for urgent funding for the NHS, as well as the hard work behind the scenes by many colleagues making the case.

But in reality these additional funds will not be enough to put the NHS on a sustainable footing. As many of us know only too well, social care is in crisis, and with an ageing population, the existing strain can only become greater. If we don’t address this issue urgently, we risk creating a wholly avoidable additional burden on the NHS which would put its stability entirely out of reach.

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Paul Burstow MP writes…Putting mental health at the top of the agenda

Mental health is so often in the news for the wrong reasons its good to finally have a few things to cheer about. Last month, though little noticed, Nick Clegg announced the start of a genuinely preventative programme in mental health with the launch of a series of front line mental health support pilots for blue light workers. People working in the emergency services experience some of the highest levels of work related stress, so it is absolutely the right place to start. And with poor mental health costing UK businesses £26 billion a year, taking mental health seriously in the workplace needs to be on every employers’ agenda – with government leading the way.

This followed on from ministerial commitment from Norman Lamb to continue funding for Time to Change, the campaign to end mental health stigma, and a rallying call for all FTSE 100 companies to sign up. It is a clear statement that good mental health should matter to all of us, and its heartening to see that companies like Royal Mail, Marks and Spencer and Barclays have already come on board.

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Paul Burstow MP: Liberal Democrats announce package of measures to help carers

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThere are 6.5 million carers in the UK today looking after friends and family who started to need a little help to carry on their day to day lives. Sadly for both carers and those they care for, a little help can become a lot more as conditions deteriorate and people are able to do less for themselves.

That one in eight of us is willing to selflessly prioritise the needs of our loved ones is truly inspirational. But too often as …

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Paul Burstow writes… Time to prepare for life in an ageing society

Grey_Pride_logo_headerLast week Anchor launched their grey pride manifesto, calling on political parties to do more for older people. Not only to end the discrimination that we know many older people suffer, but to face up to the many challenges that living in an ageing society presents, challenges for which we are “woefully unprepared”, as last year’s House of Lords Committee on Demographic Change warned.

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  • User AvatarLeave EU 29th Jun - 5:01pm
    P.S. in future to everyone else (not Nick Collins - do me a favour and ignore my posts) - I will now change my name...
  • User AvatarGordon 29th Jun - 5:01pm
    From the article: "[We need to] strongly re-emphasise the party’s radical political and constitutional reform agenda" Just how radical is it? For one thing it's...
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    @Nick Collins - please stop replying to me, I have already made a formal complaint and you are doing yourself no favours.
  • User AvatarNick Collins 29th Jun - 4:57pm
    @ LeaveEU or Whatever: So should I now expect the Thought Police to come knocking on my door?
  • User AvatarRoland 29th Jun - 4:55pm
    If the argument in the article was correct then the areas with the highest levels of immigration in England ... would have had the highest...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 29th Jun - 4:52pm
    One way the Lib Dems can lead is by toughening up the UK's negotiating stance. I can't believe the EU are demanding we should pay...