Prime minister Theresa May visits Norwich to talk mental health, PCSOs, contaminated blood, Colman’s and Britvic, and universal credit
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The prime minister Theresa May visited Norwich this afternoon and addressed issues surrounding mental health, PCSOs, contaminated blood, Colman's and Britvic, and universal credit.
Mrs May paid a visited the offices of this newspaper after announcing more than two million public sector workers are set to receive mental health support.
Earlier in the day she visited construction and infrastructure firm Morgan Sindall, at their Chapel Green School development in Old Buckenham.
Mrs May spoke to workers and managers at the firm about its mental health practices and the problem of poor mental health in the construction industry – which has a suicide rate four times the national average.
And she later said the government was keeping a close eye on development in Norfolk and Suffolk, as the region's mental health trust was recently plunged into special measures.
She said: 'It was good to see patients were very clearly complimentary about the staff, especially in the community unit there, but obviously there are other issues which need to be looked at. I think there is an intensive package going in now, overall if you look across the country there is a good record of being able to move trusts out of special measures, so that's where the focus is going to be.'
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She added: 'When we see a trust in special measures, it is important NHS Improvement and others put the support in, and the reason I'm here today is particularly focussing on the wider issue of mental health because mental health provision is not just about what happens in the NHS, it's about a whole range of environments, and the more we can do in other environments almost to prevent getting to crisis point, I think is really important.'
She also recognised the work of the EDP's mental health campaign to raise awareness.
Mrs May also addressed the news Norfolk Constabulary were looking scrap PCSOs. One of the reasons given by both Chief Constable Simon Bailey and Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green was the lifting of the pay cap for police officers and the extra pressure that would bring. But Mrs May said there was to be no more cash to balance this out.
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She said: 'Overall we are protecting police budgets and overall Norfolk has around £3m more in its direct funding this year than it had in 2015/16, and the decision whether or how they want to spend their money isn't a government decision and has to be taken at a local level.'
The Prime Minister recognised other campaign's run by this newspaper, including those surrounding the contaminated blood scandal and the potential closure of the Colman's and Britvic factories.
She said she was committed to holding an inquiry on contaminated blood, and said this inquiry would not be conducted by the Department of Health - one key concern for campaigners.
On Colman's and Britvic she said although a commercial decision, the business secretary Greg Clark had met with the companies and she would 'encourage the companies to look at how to protect these jobs'.
Mrs May also addressed problems with universal credit, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke about when he visited Great Yarmouth on Saturday.
She said she recognised there had been problems, but her message to those worried about the benefit was: 'The first thing I would say is we have introduced universal credit to get into the workplace and once they're in the workplace keep the money they are earning. We don't want people to be trapped on a life on benefits.
'If they've got concerns one of the things we announced last week is we're moving the helpline onto a freephone number. I don't want anyone to be put off asking if they've got any questions or concerns about this. I would encourage people to get in touch.'
• For the full interview, see tomorrow's EDP.