It is the responsibility of local commissioners to ensure that resources are used effectively to meet the needs of their local populations. According to the national survey of investment in adult mental health services for 2011-12, cash investment rose between 2010-11, but real-terms investment fell by 1%.
I will meet Sheffield Mind on Friday, and one of the issues we will be talking about is the impact of that fall in spending on crisis care. Mind’s research shows that crisis care teams are often under-resourced and overstretched, with four in 10 trusts having staffing levels below the Department’s own guidelines of 14 staff to 25 service users. Does the Minister think that is acceptable, and if not, what is he going to do about it?
The Government inherited an institutional bias against mental health in the NHS. [Interruption.] It is absolutely true; when the 18-week target was introduced, nothing was available for those suffering with mental health problems. Mental health patients did not benefit from choice that was introduced elsewhere in the NHS. I completely agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of crisis services, and the first NHS mandate has required the Commissioning Board to do work on the availability of mental health services and to ensure that we can introduce access standards so that mental health service users and patients benefit from the same rights as those with physical health problems.
First, may I thank you for your earlier guidance, Mr Speaker?
May I thank the Department for its approach to the ravages to which Newark health care has been subjected, principally by the last Government, and thank the Minister for his forthcoming visit to Newark and assure him that mental health care services, which have been diminished in Newark, will certainly be top of the agenda?
The Minister who will visit Newark is, in fact, my hon. Friend the Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter), but I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) for raising this issue and for highlighting the importance of mental health care. The mandate makes it very clear that the Commissioning Board and the NHS must make measurable progress towards achieving parity of esteem by 2015.