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Radical Redesign Heroes: Where are the TSSers now? Part 6: Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP and Minister of State at the Department of Health responsible for mental health

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Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, was directly responsible for mental health as the Coalition’s Minister of State at the Department of Health from September 2012 until the general election in May 2015 when the number of Liberal Democrat MPs were reduced from 57 to eight. After the general election, Norman Lamb failed in his bid to become leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Norman Lamb has sought to make political capital from portraying himself as a ‘mental health champion’ yet during his time as the minister responsible for mental health, the number of unexpected deaths rose dramatically at his local mental health trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT). NSFT’s budget fell year after year after year as mental health funding fell nationwide. Before Norman Lamb obtained his ministerial salary and car, he had much less to say about mental health, even as the Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson. Norman Lamb was warned about the disastrous radical redesign but failed to stop it.

The ‘radical redesign’ was condemned by the King’s Fund in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) and is widely regarded as an unmitigated disaster which resulted in Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust becoming the first mental health trust in England to be placed into Special Measures by Monitor after being rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). NSFT’s Board ignored warnings about the impact of the massive radical redesign cuts from its own staff, service users and carers as well as the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the BMA and Unison. NSFT wasted millions of pounds paying its own staff to leave in the midst of a recruitment crisis.

As the government minister responsible for mental health, Norman Lamb repeatedly sought to undermine our grassroots campaign. Norman Lamb emailed a complaint to a national broadcaster from his personal gmail account making completely untrue and deeply inappropriate allegations about a campaigner’s personal relationships. When we highlighted the shortage of mental health beds, Norman Lamb went onto Radio Norfolk and accused us of not being ‘progressive’ like him. Norman Lamb’s office briefed a national newspaper journalist that we were ‘SWP’ and ‘a couple of trots from Sheringham’ even though we are the largest local mental health campaign in the country and six hundred people marched through Norwich. When we peacefully protested at his Crisis Concordat launch, he refused to speak to us. When we held Norman Lamb to democratic account over his record as the government minister responsible for mental health, he accused us of ‘trolling’ him and being ‘obsessed’.

Don’t listen to what Norman Lamb claims in opposition, judge him by what he did in government.

Norman Lamb is the consummate, duplicitous politician.

We wouldn’t trust Norman to run a Sheringham chip shop.

 

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