Socialist Worker

Pressure beats mental health service cuts in Lewisham

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2592

Maggie confronts Labour mayor Steve Bullock

Maggie confronts Labour mayor Steve Bullock


Health campaigners are celebrating after they forced Labour-run Lewisham council to reverse hundreds of thousands of pounds in cuts to children’s mental health services.

The council had slashed £94,000 from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) in the south east London borough in 2016. It planned to snatch a further £150,000 during the next two years.

But Labour mayor Steve Bullock announced at a cabinet meeting last Wednesday that £100,000 of the cuts would be reversed.

Maggie Palmer, a Unite union rep and Camhs worker in Lewisham, was part of setting up the campaign. “There was so much pressure building on the council in the run-up to it,” she told Socialist Worker.

“We emailed all the Labour councillors and targeted those councillors who are on important committees.”

Agreed

“There was a split within the council and the scrutiny committee agreed to send a message to the mayor.”

All three Labour MPs in the area supported the campaign. And shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth sent a message of support to a campaign meeting earlier this month.

The Labour Party has taken up mental health as a part of its campaigning—and many councillors now call for “ring fencing”.

Labour councils should fight for more resources, not just cry foul at the Tories and play different services off each other.

Lewisham council was set to hear a report on Wednesday on making equivalent cuts elsewhere from the children’s budget.

Without a campaign of workers and parents, the council would not have been forced to reverse the cuts.

It should be used to inspire resistance to any further attacks.


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