Government accused of ‘yet another year of inaction’ on mental health

The Government has been accused of “yet another year of inaction” on mental health.

Former shadow health minister Luciana Berger highlighted a “scathing” report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into the use of the Mental Health Act.

The Labour MP said the report raised one case where a woman had been kept in conditions of long-term segregation for more than a year while waiting to access a bed.

Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said the Government had identified issues with the Act and commissioned a review, as she pledged to “turbocharge” improvements to mental health services.

“The report exposes the pressure on high secure hospital placements for women,” said Ms Berger.

“One patient had been in conditions of long-term segregation for over a year while waiting to access a bed.

“I listened closely to the minister and she referred to the review being conducted by Sir Simon Wessely, but that review and that report cannot provide answers to this patient and many hundreds more across the country today.

“Despite repeated Government promises of parity of esteem, we’ve seen yet another year of inaction.

“Can the minister in her response accept that in 2018, here in England, that what is outlined in today’s CQC report is completely unacceptable.”

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, Ms Berger (pictured) said the CQC report had found no improvement in key areas of concern, with widespread failure to involve patients in their care plans and plans for when they are discharged.

There were also concerns over the increasing use of detentions under the Act and levels of funding for mental health services.

“This scathing report finds that too many patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act continue to experience care that does not fully protect their rights or ensure their wellbeing,” Ms Berger said.

“Some members may have seen the harrowing episode of Dispatches last week, which showed scenes of a patient experiencing violent restraint at the Priory Group, Dene hospital.

“This CQC report today indicates that these experiences are not isolated.”

Shadow health minister Barbara Keeley said the report “lays bare the problems that lie at the heart of the Government’s short-sighted and incoherent approach to dealing with mental health”.

She added: “The Government make many claims about the funding they have pledged to mental health services, as the minister has today.

“But it’s clear that the money is not reaching the frontline.”

Ms Doyle-Price said the Government was spending a record £11.6 billion on mental health.

Sir Simon’s independent review of the Mental Health Act was due to produce an interim report in the spring with its full recommendations due to be published in the autumn, she added.

“We’ve got a long way to go. It’s one of the reasons the Prime Minister has put mental health very firmly at the top of our agenda for health,” said Ms Doyle-Price.

“This report actually does identify a positive direction of travel, but we will continue to turbocharge it and deliver sustained improvements in mental health services.”

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