Readers' letters - June 6

Time to make mental health a top priority

Thursday, 8th June 2017, 1:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th June 2017, 2:16 pm

I write in response to the special report highlighting the coroner’s warning over deaths as a result of suicide (LP May 31). Your editorial team are to be commended for focusing on this important issue, which causes distress and devastation to families and friends bereaved by suicide.

More than 6,000 people in the UK die by suicide each year and many consider this is an underestimate, as coroners, respecting family sensitivities, sometimes deliver an open or narrative verdict. Of note, suicide is the biggest cause of death in young men under the age of 45.

Prevention of suicide is complex. However, suicide should never be regarded as inevitable. The Cheshire and Merseyside authorities are leading the way in adopting ideas and developing good practice initiatives from Canada and America.

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It is my understanding that Lancashire County Council do not yet have an agreed multi-agency strategy or mechanisms for learning lessons from incidents to prevent similar tragedies. I welcome the report that Preston Council is establishing a group, albeit belatedly, to review the suicide rates in Preston and make recommendations.

I hope they will invite the expert team from the University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide, to inform them of best practice. The Samaritans are also well placed to inform local approaches from their UK network and I urge that they are consulted.

It would be inappropriate to comment on the tragic loss experienced by the family from Leyland, except to express sincere condolences.

However, a key factor in many suicides is the lack of resources available for mental health care, which would enable appropriate time to be spent with individuals who are vulnerable.

Adequate resources for safety planning and delivery of care, opportunities for training and supervision of staff, to effectively carry out regular assessment and timely reviews are also crucial.

What is not always acknowledged is that staff caring for vulnerable people often feel the loss themselves and fear being criticised when they have done their best in often impossible circumstances. I hope whoever wins the election will ensure their pre-election promises of resources for mental health will become a reality. However, mental health staff have been disappointed on so many occasions in the past.

Malcolm Rae OBE



Save NHS and welfare state

Do people realise that privatisation in the health service has already begun on the quiet?

Jeremy Hunt and others have met with Kaiser Permanente, a private healthcare organisation based in California, with a view to take over the NHS.

Now I understand why Theresa May last week openly told Andrew Neil on TV that she approves of the Naylor Report (this report reveals how the Tories are ordering the sale of NHS property, at a buy one get one free, knock down price!).

It also answers why Tory Minister Damian Green, during a TV interview with Andrew Marr (May 21), when pushed for an answer as to where £8bn for the NHS was coming from, stated that it would come from within various parts of the NHS and, in particular, they have been looking at social care!

Nye Bevan would turn in his grave – he fought tooth and nail for the NHS to be born in 1948.

Also did pensioners and the disabled know that the Tory Disability Minister Penny Mordaunt endorses forced institutionalisation, if necessary against people’s will?

At least the PM has U-turned on the death tax, or at least has altered her figures.

But, another little-noticed blow for pensioners is the New Bedroom Tax, where the poorest will be hit again and are due to lose significantly more than £300 per year.

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners will be affected by this, which extends tough benefit restrictions in the private rented sector to council and housing association homes.

According to Age UK charity director, Caroline Abrahams, this will cause much anxiety and distress for the aged, without any significant gains for the government.

This, together with the threat of axing the winter payment, would leave most pensioners at least £20 a week worse off, which could mean the difference between starving to death or freezing to death.

Although there is a light in the dark.

This weekend, five senior ex-Tory politicians urged voters to back Labour, as the ex-politicians savage Theresa May’s stance on Brexit.

A scathing letter signed by them warns a vote for Mrs May would help right wingers who hope to pull Britain out of Europe without a deal, and then dismantle the Welfare State. They urge people to vote tactically for a candidate who can defeat a Tory hopeful.

This election on Thursday matters more than any other – please get out and vote Labour to save our NHS and Welfare State.

Elaine Kellet-Harrison



Show we are not sheep

Psychologists would tell us that if a person feels the need to go on trying to reassure themselves that they are, for example, “strong and stable”, that this is a sure indication of self-doubt and lack of self confidence.

Mrs May is a good example of this. By constantly trying to convince us, she is merely demonstrating that she is not at all strong and stable. Strong people do not need to go on like this.

In contrast, someone like Jeremy Corbyn has no need to do this. He is so comfortable in his own skin that I doubt if it ever enters his head to wonder if he is a strong leader.

But he has demonstrated powerfully by his resilient resistance to the constantly hostile attacks by 90 per cent of our press and, indeed, the opposition from many of his own (careerist) MPs just how strong and determined he really is. Leadership is about listening not shouting.

Mrs May wants us all to be sheep and she would lead us to disaster. For example,the NHS is the one great achievement which marks us out as a truly civilized country, anyone who threatens to destroy it is, by definition, a barbarian. We must show we are not sheep and have minds of our own.

Graham Chadwick


foreign aid

We can help home and away

During this election campaign, I am concerned with who will represent Wyre and Preston North in the next Parliament. There are many important local and national issues at stake. As a supporter of Catholic aid agency CAFOD, I hope that candidates of all parties in Wyre and Preston North will consider global issues too, and commit to build on Britain’s proud record in looking outwards and working with others to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change. We live in an interconnected world.

To say we can’t help people at home if we help them abroad is to present a false choice. We are big enough to do both: it is who we are and what we stand for.

Mrs Catherine Morgan



TV debate was unbalanced

The BBC TV debate in Cambridge was to give a bunch of also-rans an opportunity to attack the Government. What else could we expect from the BBC? The location in a strong Remain constituency, another sleight of hand by the BBC.

Alan Chapman

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