NHS privatisation. Photo: Mary Finch
NHS privatisation. Photo: Mary Finch

Jodie, mental health nurse

Underfunding in mental health services, together with a fewer available staff to deal with an increasing number of users, has put huge pressure on the workforce and left mental health trusts struggling to staff services safely.

Mental health teams work with patients who are relapsing and in mental health crisis, often unable to admit them as there are no psychiatric beds available. Patients wait days for a mental health assessment.

Official figures show that there has been a 30% reduction in the number of beds available in mental health trusts since 2009.

Often, we have no choice but to care for patients at home, leaving them extremely vulnerable. Nurses are left emotionally drained, facing sleepless nights worrying for their patients’ safety. They are leaving the profession in increasing number because of the effects of 12 years of deliberate underfunding by the Tories.

Meanwhile, profiteers who own mental health hospitals are overcharging for private beds. Private hospitals, funded by the NHS, make huge profits providing inadequate services. According to the Care Quality Commission, 40% of private hospitals are rated inadequate.

From the ridiculously low funding NHS mental health services receive from the Tory Government, 27% is directly handed over to private providers.

In the UK, 40% of Mental Health Trusts have staffing levels below established benchmarks. Waiting lists are disturbingly high and the numbers of mental health referrals are bigger than ever.

There is a significant decline in the number of applicants for nursing courses – down 30% – because of the cost of university and the real-terms reduction in salary for qualified nurses. Shockingly, a newly qualified nurse will graduate with an average debt of £80k. I trained in 2011 and received a bursary of £500 a month and all my university fees paid.

We need to continue to fight for our rights, not only for ourselves but for our patients.

I say: abolish tuition fees, end student debt, and restore education as a universal public good. Fund the NHS properly and stop pumping money into inadequate private hospitals.

When Rishi Sunak tells us there’s no money, remember his £7.3 billion tax giveaways to his mates in the banks. If the government can afford handouts for the rich, it can afford to properly fund our NHS!