Politicians back calls for funding of mental health helpline ahead of key meetings this week

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mind support line. Ben Marshall, team leader. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Norfolk's political heavyweights today join calls from this newspaper and service-users for the continued funding of a mental health helpline described as 'life-saving'.

The message from virtually all our county's MPs, council leaders, and other interested parties could not be more clear: The Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Mental Health helpline should be funded to avoid its closure at the end of this month.

Their plea comes ahead of two key meetings this week, in which health bosses will get round the table with charity bosses and MPs to discuss the helpline's future.

We contacted every MP and local authority leader in Norfolk (excluding Great Yarmouth and Waveney) and asked them if they believed the helpline should be funded.

Six of the seven MPs who responded said funding should be secured.

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The seventh, Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said she had received assurances from health secretary Jeremy Hunt that 'everyone who needs it should have timely access to evidence-based services'.

A range of senior councillors also backed calls for the helpline to be funded, including the chairman and deputy chairman of Norwich City Council (Alan Waters and Gail Harris respectively), the chairman of Norfolk County Council's health and wellbeing committee (Brian Watkins), and the leader of West Norfolk Council (Nick Daubney).

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Amanda Headley, chief executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind – who meets health bosses tonight – said: 'I'm really pleased people are getting around the table to have a good talk about the service.'

The clinical commissioning groups have said they cannot afford to fund the £120,000-a-year helpline.

To see the full list of politicians and other interested parties and their comments on the Mind helpline buy today's EDP.

Have you got a mental health story?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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