Theresa May criticised for not visiting mental health trust during Norfolk visit

Prime minister Theresa May with David Powels and Jeff Henry during her visit to the Eastern Daily Pr

Prime minister Theresa May with David Powels and Jeff Henry during her visit to the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News office. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

She came to Norwich to launch a bold new mental health drive – but now Theresa May has been criticised for not visiting the organisation in charge of mental health care in the area during her visit.

The prime minister announced new workplace mental health support measures in an interview with this newspaper, before visiting a Morgan Sindall construction site in Old Buckenham.

But Labour councillor Steve Morphew believes Mrs May should have taken the opportunity to visit the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which specialises in mental health.

He said: 'Given the state of the mental health services in Norfolk, it's almost unbelievable that she should come to Norwich – within a few minutes of the hospital in fact – without actually going along and taking the opportunity to speak to patients, staff and the management there.

'She could and should have gone there if she really wanted to talk about mental health.

'She spoke to the EDP about what is going on in Norfolk, so she was clearly aware of the problems. It is very strange that she chose not to speak directly with the people affected.'

Mr Morphew welcomed the Thriving at Work review, but argued it would be of no benefit without financial backing.

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He said: 'The people who produced the report have come up with some useful recommendations, but the prime minister's words are not going to translate into action unless she's prepared to put real resources behind it.

'Her hollow rhetoric detracts from the value of the report and, given the pressure she is putting public sector organisations under, there is a bit of an irony to her championing the report at this time.

'Whatever the difficulties are with the management of the mental health trust, the root cause is the lack of funding from the government. The prime minister is trying to use words as sticking plaster when what we really need is money.'

Norwich South MP, Clive Lewis, also took to Twitter to criticise the prime minister's visit.

He said: 'May is a bad joke. In Norwich to launch Tory mental health prog when our services are in special measures for 2nd time.'

The prime minister's office has been contacted for comment.