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#GPnews: Government failing to answer ‘basic questions on mental health’

16:10 The Department of Health press office has tweeted in response to news reports this morning that junior doctor contract changes would disproportionally hit single mums.

It points out that the DH analysis in question concluded that the new contract ‘is fair and justified as good for both staff and patients’.

The quote tweeted by DH also adds that in the cases where the contract does have an ‘indirect adverse effect’ the equality analysis considers ‘that the new contract is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’.

15:30 A small number of news outlets have highlighted that the so-called ‘Devo Manc project – the devolution of £6bn healthcare funding to local authorities in Greater Manchester – goes live today.

The Greater Manchester Strategic Partnership, which includes councils, CCGs and hospital trusts, is now in charge of strategic decisions on health matters. Its chair Lord Peter Smith told the BBC that by focusing on improving people’s health, this would benefit the economy.

He said: ‘Lots of people suffer from long-term illness and we’ve got great ambition to do something about their health. But it’s wider than health we want to do something for the economy.

‘A lot of people can’t get into work because they have health problems, so if we can help them there will be more people getting back into work and we will have more wealth created in Manchester.’

But a Guardian opinion piece pointed out that ‘the experience so far of integrated care is that it delivers better health but no short-term savings’ and that ‘although the budget is nominally devolved, NHS England will retain ultimate control’.

It also concluded that ‘Manchester still lacks power over the real drivers of ill health and differing outcomes: social and economic inequality’.

14:05 The Labour Party has launched a #mentalhealthmatters campaign in a bid to highlight the Government’s ‘lack of knowledge’ on the area. 

Launching the campaign today, Labour’s shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger said suicide rates, teenagers on anti-depressants and child deaths in psychiatric care are among some of the data not being collected by the Government, the Huffington Post reports.

As part of the campaign, Ms Berger has submitted hundreds of questions to the Government in an attempt to find out how seriously it is addressing mental health across the UK and she will also use social media to reveal 30 of the most ‘shocking gaps in the Government’s knowledge surrounding the issue.’

Ms Berger said: ‘It is absolutely appalling that Ministers have no idea how many new mums have taken their own lives because of mental health problems, how many people diagnosed with mental illness go to prison, or how many children have died in NHS mental health units.

‘How can ministers claim to be focussing on mental health when they don’t have an accurate picture of what is actually happening on the ground?’

She went on to claim that ministers would be under fire if they couldn’t answer ‘such basic’ questions on physical health. 

‘If Ministers couldn’t answer such basic questions on physical health there would be outrage. These findings cast further doubt over the Tory Government’s ability to deliver what they have promised and make mental health the real priority it deserves to be.’

12:05 Pulse blogger Dr Zoe Norris has called on former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada and current College chair Dr Maureen Baker to ‘lead the way’ in fighting against the pay ‘inequality’ for female junior doctors. 

This follows reports this morning that women could suffer from the imposition of the new junior doctor contract, after DH published its equality analysis yesterday, it emerged that women were set to bear the brunt of the changes, with the contract hitting part-time workers the most, the majority of whom are female.

In reply to Dr Norris’ tweet, Dr Baker said she would be publishing a blog on the issue later today. 

10:50  A new study has found that there are now more obese people in the world than underweight, the BBC reports

The new research – which was published in The Lancet, 

It concluded that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014 – while the number of underweight people had risen from 330 million to 462 million over the same period. 

09:35 Single mums will be hit disproportionately hard under the new junior doctors’ contract, the Mirror reports.

The equality analysis from the Department of Health, released yesterday, found that women will face the brunt of changes being made. Single mums were singled out for particular concern, with the contract hitting part-time workers the most, the majority of whom are female.


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