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Mental Illness Care

Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2010

15. What mechanisms are in place to assess the effectiveness of assertive outreach teams in providing support for people with severe mental illness; and if he will make a statement. (13161)

The Department of Health has issued guidance on the key components of an effective assertive outreach team. It is for each local trust to put in place robust quality assurance arrangements to ensure that it delivers the high-quality and effective service that the public expect. That is further underpinned by the work of the Care Quality Commission.

I am grateful to the Minister for his response. One of my constituents, William Barnard, who was profoundly mentally ill, went on to kill his grandfather as a result of the poor system that was operating in relation to his care. What progress has been made in ensuring that other teams do not suffer from the same failings in their systems?

The hon. Lady and I debated this issue in the Chamber back in July. One of the most concerning aspects of the case of William Barnard was a singular failure to listen to the concerns expressed by family members and carers on the part of those who could have taken the necessary action to improve matters. I continue to take a close interest in the investigations being undertaken by the local NHS. We want to ensure that when lessons can be learned nationally, they are reflected in the Government’s forthcoming mental health policies.

Have the Minister or others in his Department had any discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions, because in the coming months a large number of people with mental health problems will be called in for interview to be reassessed from incapacity benefit on to employment and support allowance? This is already causing a great deal of anxiety among my constituents because Aberdeen is one of the trial areas. I wonder whether any of the mental health professionals have been informed and are ready for the influx that might result from that change in policy.

There are several parts to that question. First, we have already made commitments to invest in talking therapies, which are improving hugely the quality of lives of many people with mental health conditions. Secondly, I and departmental officials have had meetings with colleagues in the DWP, and I will have further meetings shortly, particularly to discuss the DWP input into a cross-Government mental health strategy.