PM confronted by nurse over issue of low pay in Question Time special, while Jeremy Corbyn is questioned over Trident and national security
Theresa May came under sustained pressure over the Conservative party’s record on public sector pay, mental health services and social care in a combative election edition of BBC1’s Question Time broadcast less than a week before polling day.
The prime minister faced a string of awkward questions from members of the public, including a challenge from a nurse, Victoria Davey, who left May faltering after confronting her over the 1% pay increase received by NHS staff.
Related: Question Time leaders’ special: May under fire over NHS and education – live
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There is no greater indictment of British society than soaring rates of mental distress in children. No wonder politicians cling to a simplistic ‘illness’ model
The public profile of mental health experienced another boost this week, thanks to some moving comments made by Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge about the impact of their mother’s death, nearly 20 years ago. The two royals are working for the Heads Together campaign, which seeks to combat the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and to encourage people to speak more openly about their difficulties.
Harry’s admission that he had ignored his own emotional distress for several years before eventually having counselling was a valuable contribution, from a figure more commonly associated with laddish machismo. William’s focus on male suicide statistics was also a good use of his celebrity.
There is no more damning indictment on British society in 2017 than the prevalence of mental distress among children
Related: The stiff upper lip: why the royal health warning matters
The chief executive of Remploy says living with depression has made him a better person to run the organisation that gets £50m of contracts to help people back into work
Gareth Parry has spent almost three decades supporting people with disabilities and mental health issues find work, but a recent mental health crisis of his own has given him a personal insight into the remit of the organisation he leads.
Parry has only ever worked for Remploy, starting as a trainee administrator and becoming chief executive a year ago. Problems in his personal life two years ago triggered depression. At the time, he was overseeing a government contract for workplace mental health support. “I knew a lot [professionally] about mental ill health, but I didn’t recognise it,” he says. “Suddenly I was on the other side. It reinforced the importance of organisations like Remploy; work gave me routine, structure, focus, when everything else in my life was in chaos.”
We must recognise, harness and nurture people’s abilities rather than see only a disability
Superficially the UK leads the world on disability rights, but colossal cuts are undermining the progress made over the last few decades
On Monday, disabled representatives from disability organisations across England, Scotland and Wales presented reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva. It is now eight years since the UK ratified the UNCRPD with cross-party support and this is the committee’s first full examination of the UK’s performance.
So how are we doing? The government is fond of claiming that the UK is a “world leader” on disability rights. Superficially, this claim remains fairly accurate. We have the most comprehensive and proactive equality law anywhere in the world; social care legislation and practice that embodies the principle of choice and control; a social security system that claims to recognise the extra costs of disability; and law and regulations to advance accessibility. It is important to remind ourselves of what disabled people have achieved over the past 30-40 years of disability rights activism, as we have charted our journey from objects of care and charity to becoming active, contributing citizens. But any assessment of progress cannot be confined solely to what we now have, or where we were in the past. And judging by the UK’s direction of travel, the government’s claim of world leadership quickly unravels: we are seeing big cuts to services and watering down of rights and opportunities of disabled people.