Story header image for Karen Constantine appearing on Politics South East

Free school meals, children’s mental health services and covid births

The opportunity of speaking out on the BBC Sunday Politics South East show is one not to be missed. It’s live. It’s nerve wracking, but it is the opportunity to speak truth to power! I hope Tim Loughton MP actually listened.

If the Conservatives continue to build a perfect storm of poverty, child hunger, cuts to services, low wages and growing unemployment, then there is no doubt in my mind that the Conservatives will forfeit their right to govern and Labour will be elected and left to pick up the mess.

Free school meals during holidays

Marcus Rashford is inspirational in using his voice to speak up for those without voice. It’s repugnant to me and many others that in the sixth richest nation on the planet our kids go hungry. This is the politics of the workhouse. This is the return of the nasty party. The Conservatives have wasted £12 billion on test and trace, with contracts awarded to friends and donors to the Tory party. Corruption that is now becoming apparent to most.

CAMHS crisis

Within CAMHS (Children and adolescent mental health services) we have seen the enormous difficulties our young people have accessing vital mental health services and support. We have actually been experiencing this for some years in Thanet. We are now seeing other areas now sadly catching up. Why is this happening? Again it’s due to the underfunding of the NHS. The Conservatives are stripping the NHS down ready for privatisation and letting those services that are “not profitable“ whither on the vine.

Invest more in maternity services

Birth should always be a safe and joyful process. Lockdown due to Covid has been particularly difficult for mothers. With partners prevented from being at both the birth and also at 12 and 20 week scan’s. This now needs to be reversed across every trust. The decision to prevent partners being at vital stages of pregnancy are not based on any clinical evidence.

Again we can’t ignore the damage done by the Tories to midwifery and health visiting with cuts and underinvestment over the last decade. Prior to the Pandemic we knew that one in four women experienced physical or emotional trauma during birth. That the trauma is often a precursor to poor mental health for the mothers. Poor mental health often combined with poverty has a profound lasting impact on both mother and child.

We know that midwives start their careers carrying the burden of £41,000 worth of debt. Coming out of training, their workplaces are all too often understaffed. We need a government that invests urgently in midwifery and health visitors. A Labour government will improve the pay the terms of conditions in these vital NHS services. Things have to change course so that that maternity services and babies come first.

In short we need a Government that will invest in our vital public services. The cost of not doing so is hungry children and poor mental health.