Pay more tax to help cope with growing levels of mental ill health, MP and doctor says
People should pay more tax so funding to cope with growing levels of mental ill health can be doubled, an MP who also works as a doctor has said.
Dr Dan Poulter, who balances his duties as Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP with work as a frontline substance misuse service doctor, said a “more challenging” modern world meant an ever-increasing demand for support.
But while he welcomed an extra £2billion dedicated towards mental health in the recent Budget, the Conservative said: “There needs to a step change in funding.
“£2bn will only help the service to stand still, let alone expand to the level the population demands and is required.
“It’s commendable there will be an increase in provision but that’s really putting the cart before the horse.
“We need to spend double what we’re spending now - that would allow us to meet demand.”
Asked how that would be paid for given the NHS’ funding challenges, Dr Poulter said: “I’m very happy to make the case for paying little bit more tax for paying for public services.”
He said it would need to made very clear exactly how the cash is being spent and on precisely which services.
But he said: “Most of the public in general would accept, as long as they can see the money clearly going into the NHS, a small bit of extra tax to pay for that.
“If we want to have a step change, we’re going to have to find extra money.
“If that means people have to pay a little bit more tax, then I’m comfortable with that.”
Dr Poulter said there had been growing levels of mental ill health in society.
“There has been greater awareness of mental health and people have been more able to talk about things,” he said.
“However the modern world is a more challenging place to live in and that’s something that produces its own difficulties for a lot of families.”
But he criticised successive governments, including his own party’s, for poor levels of mental health funding.
“Mental health has been chronically under-funded for decades,” he said.
“Consecutive governments have got to take the blame for not properly funding mental health.”
In particular he believes more investment needs to be put into supporting young people with mental ill health in schools.