By Local Democracy Reporter
HALF a million pounds will be spent on slashing the wait times for mental health services in Thurrock.
The council’s deputy leader Councillor Shane Hebb, who oversees finance, told councillors that £500,000 would be spent on speeding up diagnosis with money being take out of the council’s surplus funds.
It was announced after Thurrock Independent Councillor John Allen called for extra funding to reducing wait times.
He said: “Much more funding needs to be put into mental health. I am sure you are aware that one in four of us suffer from some form of mental health issue. It is a huge issue that presents itself in our borough and ranges from anxiety and depression to more serious issues and even suicide.
“If you have to wait around 12 to 16 weeks for an appointment, I am sure a condition could worsen in that time, we need to look at reducing those waiting times – ridiculous waiting times. We need to at least half that.”
Councillor Shane Hebb said: “You have a commitment from this administration that we are injecting half a million into mental health to help change and improve the speediness of the way mental health treatment and diagnosis is identified and helps the service user.
“Behind every statistic is a human being, each has their own remarkable story, and that money is going in from the surplus this council has generated, something we wouldn’t be able to do without our economic management.
“We are trying to prioritise what is absolutely critical and mental health is absolutely one of the linchpins of that.”
Thurrock Council is also working health providers to implement a major mental health transformation scheme that will focus on improving diagnosis and increasing the number of people who take up health checks.
It will also see the introduction of a 111 helpline for people struggling with mental health disorders and changes to the type of care delivered, including introducing physical activity as a treatment.
The scheme was set to be introduced at the end of the year but could be pushed back by another six months after the NHS said health authorities in the East of England must help bail out health services in Cambridge and Peterborough which are in debt – in Thurrock this means handing over £480,000.