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New Labour leader creates shadow mental health role


Labour’s new party leader Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Luciana Berger as shadow minister for mental health in a newly created position.

Ms Berger is MP for Liverpool Wavertree and was formerly a shadow public health minister under Ed Miliband’s leadership.

“Inspired decision to make mental health a specific shadow cabinet role”

Andy Burnham

Mr Corbyn was elected on Saturday after achieving 59% of the vote in the leadership contest, beating fellow candidates including Mr Burnham who came second with 19% of the vote.

The new Labour party leader has previously spoken about the importance of tackling mental health issues, saying during his leadership campaign he would look to grow mental health budgets – particularly for children.

His proposals also included increasing the number of mental health professionals and setting up a national study into the mental health of children and young people

In addition, he has proposed addressing high rates of mental illness among women plus the over-representation of people from black and minority ethnic communities in long-stay institutions.

Commenting on the new shadow minister position, former Labour health secretary Andy Burnham said via social media platform Twitter: “Inspired decision to make mental health a specific shadow cabinet role and no better person to do it than @lucianaberger.”

Earlier this summer, Mr Corbyn said he would recommit Labour to a publicly funded NHS, pledging to eradicate private finance initiative (PFI) funding, the repayments for which he claimed were leading to staff and service cuts at trusts.

“Jeremy Corbyn has immediately put mental health right at the heart of the political debate, which is where it has to be”

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson, professor of collaborative mental health nursing at City University London, described Ms Berger’s appointment as “fantastic news” and that it had “immediately put mental health right at the heart of the political debate”.

“On his first day as Labour leader, Mr Corbyn made a very thoughtful speech about the need to recognise that mental health is an intrinsic part of our national health service and an absolutely central part of people’s lives,” he said. “I have no doubt many mental health workers, service users and their families will be cheering loudly to hear a leading politician take such a bold, unequivocal stance.

“I hope the new shadow minister for mental health, Luciana Berger, will as a first step get out and about and listen to what mental health service users and people working in health and social care services have to say,” he added.


Readers' comments (10)

  • This is an encouraging decision. The campaigning of BBTT against abuse of NHS staff in Worcestershire has highlighted the great pressure on staff because of cuts in mental health services.

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  • <3

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  • Mr Corbyn must be to good to be true. If however he is a genuine person, I am afraid to say he may be the last best hope for the NHS, if we manage to survive the next 5 years.

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  • Hooray for Mr Corbyn if he sticks to his political ideology and sticks to his promises we might have a chance of saving the poor old NHS he will get my vote if he stands for PM unfortunately we have to survive the present elected party for a long time yet unless the country votes a vote of no confidence

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  • no confidence

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  • Are people failing to remember it was Labour who got the NHS into the position it's in now!!!!
    Not holding my breath on this one......

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  • Is he forgetting it was labour that initiated PFI, cut nurse training budgets/places in the 1990's to take effect right about now. Not holding my breath and think the next 5 years may be the best shot the NHS has.

    Good to see that MH has made an appearance though. Not sure how much of that is just paying lip service to the pressures being placed on parliament.

    Lets face it when we go back to living in a Marxist state were we all have nothing no matter how had we work, depression and other mental illnesses will be rife. we will need more robust and better invested services.

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  • Anon 1.20pm
    It was John Major, not Blair, that came up with the PFI wheeze.
    Nurse training takes 4 years max at college, how would cutting the numbers back in the 1990's affect the numbers now, in 2015? I started my training in 1997, and my cohort was 4 times larger than the preceding one.
    As for living in a Marxist state, as there has never been one throughout the history of mankind and capitalism has served us sooooo well over the years, why not give it a go?

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  • I am heartened that compassion is a the forefront of Labours new leadership. Congratulations Mr Corbyn !

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  • redpaddys12 | 19-Sep-2015 4:00 am

    Well said, Sir. Moreover, the Labour government which extended the original Tory initiated PFI scheme was Blairite / New Labour and barely left of The Conservatives.

    I also agree with your assertion that there has never been a Marxist state. Communist countries past and present have been based on a Leninist interpretation of Marx's original ideals (which were significantly bastardised in order to make them fit the imperfect situation in Russia in the early 20th Century).

    If Marxist detractors actually bothered to actually read his political theories, and juxtapose them to the current zeitgeist, they would readily come to the conculsion that there is absolutelty zero chance of them ever occuring in this country, especially on the back of an elected left wing Labour leader.

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