Monday, January 24, 2022

Partygate has added to the country’s mental health stress, Starmer says

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The No 10 ‘Partygate scandal’ has worsened the public’s mental health, Sir Keir Stamer said as he laid out plans to reform the NHS under a Labor government.

The Labor leader, speaking at the Fabian Society conference in London, said young people were particularly hard hit by mental health problems during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of his vision for the NHS, he pledged that a Labor administration would set up a mental health facility for young people in every community and provide technical support in schools.

Sir Keir posed questions on politics after his speech and said the revelations of breaches of coronavirus rules at Downing Street had exacerbated people’s mental well-being problems.

He said: “By the way, I think the Partygate scandal, for lack of a better word… what has happened over the last few weeks where it has become apparent that the vast majority of the British public has obeyed the laws of the Government, the Government and the Prime Minister celebrated at Downing Street.

“I think that added to the mental health stress because so many people are now asking, ‘Then why on earth did I do this while they were doing what they were doing?’

“So I think that before the pandemic we had mental health issues that have gotten worse during the pandemic to a greater degree than we really understood, particularly among young people.

“And I think the last few weeks in relation to Partygate have only made things worse.”

During his speech on Saturday, the opposition leader vowed that a Labor administration would ensure those in need of mental health treatment were taken care of in “less than a month”.

“We will be hiring over 8,500 more mental health professionals to support one million more people each year,” he added.

“Every school will have professional support, every community will have an open access mental health center for young people.”

He accused the Prime Minister of being “too busy defending his rule-breaking” to reverse the NHS fortunes and called on the health service to focus more on keeping people not sick and a “home-first.” “Introduce policies for care.

“We need to develop new treatments to help with long-term conditions, we need to think about both mental and physical health, and we need to think not only about how we treat patients, but how we prevent them from getting sick will be first place,” he told the conference.

The former chief prosecutor accused the Conservatives of “messing up” the NHS.

He said: “The first task of any Labor government would be to clean up the mess that the Tories have made of the NHS.

“The last Labor government cut waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks. We must do the same again.”

He pledged that Labor would “invest appropriately to reduce waiting lists and we would start recruiting, training and, crucially, retaining the staff we need”.

Sir Keir opened up about his “anger” at the state of the NHS and said the party will “make welfare as important as national economic performance”.

A Clean Air Act will also be introduced to tackle the “silent killer” of air pollution, he added.

He said the party has a five-point plan for transforming welfare, with the shadow cabinet taking a “completely different approach” to the government’s increase in Social Security due in April to fund welfare and the NHS backlog to dismantle

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting will set out the plan for living with Covid in the coming days, Sir Keir has said.

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