Council votes to slash GAMH funding

Gamh demo 1 cropped

Mental health charity is determined to fight on after councillors vote to cut £2m a year from its budget

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11th December 2014 by Graham Martin 2 Comments

Staff and service users of an under-threat charity have said they will battle on – despite a decision to slash their funding.

Labour councillors in Glasgow have pushed through a controversial package of cuts which could see Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH) close.

A meeting of the council’s executive voted 9-7 on Thursday to cut £2million a year from the frontline charity, which helps some of society’s most vulnerable.

The vote went along party lines, with SNP and Green members opposing the move.

Trade union Unison has warned the move could see to end of GAMH – but vowed to challenge the decision legally.

It says proper consultation did not take place, with vital elements like the equality impact of the cuts not looked at.

Mental health problems can happen to anyone. It could happen the councillors who took this decision, they’ve got to realise that.

A lively demo outside the City Chambers, which was planned in advance but took place after the decision was made, saw staff and service users chant “cuts cost lives”.

Unison organiser Deborah Dyer said: “This is a devastating blow, but it’s not over by a long stretch. Procedures were not followed, this was rushed through because they were embarrassed about the demo.

“We will continue to fight this – this is just round one.”

The ruling Labour group refused to accept a petition containing thousands of signatures, which was instead accepted by representatives of the SNP group.

SNP councillor Alison Thewliss said: “This was a ridiculous decision which could have a terrible impact.”

Service user Jacki MacAulay said: “I’m really disgusted. People need these services. GAMH gives people their life back, gets them back into society, there’s training and workshops. They are at the end of a phone, if you haven’t called them, they’ll call you.

“Any time you need something they help you, with housing or benefits. Mental health problems can happen to anyone. It could happen to the councillors who took this decision, they’ve got to realise that.

“We’re all voters, they forget that. But we won’t – we will remember this and we won’t give up.”

GAMH founder Dr Huw Lloyd Richards, who founded the charity in 1977,told TFN: “It’s really important that people have a voice and they get out and speak with that voice. These people are being denied an appropriate access to the decision making process.

“They have not seen the services review which was produced by the social care directorate they have not had an opportunity to talk to councillors about this.

“The slogan here is that cuts cost lives – and they do.”

TFN recently exclusively revealed that a report showed GAMH provides a return to the city of £11m for every £2m put in annually.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "The council is facing an exceptionally challenging financial situation and we have to ensure tax payers' money is being spent effectively.

"Over the past twelve months we have reviewed our mental health services to ensure we are making the most of available resources.

"As with other parts of the social work service, this means there has to be an emphasis within the mental health service on early intervention and prevention.

"We also need to see better outcomes for individuals with more people recovering from their illness more quickly and being able to live independently in the community.

"This will help the council fulfil its statutory responsibilities and ensure support needs continue to be met.

"Under the proposals passed by the Executive Committee, we fully expect GAMH to continue to be a significant care provider within the city's overall mental health service.

"However, the review of mental health services undertaken by the council highlighted a clear need for GAMH to improve the services they provide and also that there is a duplication of services.

"As part of the overall reconfiguration of mental health services, we envisage GAMH working more closely with GPs, focusing on prevention rather than crisis intervention and delivering that preventative support more effectively."  

12th December 2014 by Edward Harkins

It may be unwanted advice at such a dismaying time, but probably the best way forward is for to take on board, analyse and respond to the Glasgow City Council's findings that; "However, the review of mental health services undertaken by the council highlighted a clear need for GAMH to improve the services they provide and also that there is a duplication of services."GAMH will in all probability be able to respond appropriately and with evidence-based authority.The outcomes of such a course of action could, hopefully, enable GAMH to take the Council at its word when it also stated: "... we fully expect GAMH to continue to be a significant care provider within the city's overall mental health service."

12th December 2014 by John Mason MSP

There may be arguments about the details of GAMH's work. I personally think highly of that work. However, the bigger picture is that mental health is not being taken seriously enough. We invest serious resources in fixing broken legs and helping heart attack victims. Why do we not invest more in mental health?