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Psychosis: Early Intervention

Volume 637: debated on Thursday 15 March 2018

I beg to move,

That this House has considered access and waiting time standards for early intervention in psychosis.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon, for what I think is the first time. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for facilitating this debate on an issue of real importance and something I care about a lot. I will start with the origins of early intervention in psychosis and then raise my specific concerns about the progress made under the Government’s programme.

The approach dates back to the 1990s. In 1999, the Labour Government decided to give a significant national push to the development of early intervention in psychosis services. There was a mental health policy implementation guide of that date, and at that time the service was to focus on those aged 14 to 35, the years when psychosis was most likely to emerge. Once an individual started their treatment, there was to be a three-year programme. Critical to that was small case loads, so that the professionals in multidisciplinary teams could work closely with the individuals involved. It also involved family interventions. In a 10-year period, the national case load grew to 22,500 for what was widely seen as a valuable innovation.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence review of psychosis and schizophrenia in 2014 concluded that early intervention services,

“more than any other services developed to date, are associated with improvements in a broad range of critical outcomes, including relapse rates, symptoms, quality of life and a better experience”

for service users. I will return to that later, but an excellent annual report by the Southern Region EIP programme—for the south of England—specifically highlighted the impact on employment rates. When these services have proper investment, people who experience a first episode of psychosis can often be got into employment or education at far higher levels that has traditionally been the case with generic mental health services. That is an enormous prize to be won, when we think about quality of life and sense of self-worth, and indeed the cost of the condition to the state—so, lots of praise for the impact of early intervention services.

The Schizophrenia Commission said that early intervention services were the “great innovation” of the last 10 years, referring to multidisciplinary working, recovery ethos, co-production, working with people with the condition and achieving high standards. Professor Louis Appleby has described the service as the

“jewel in the crown of the NHS mental health reform because…service users like it…people get better”—

that is important—and

“it saves money”,

which is also critical.

On that point, we know from analysis that for every £1 properly invested in early intervention in psychosis, there is a return of £15 over subsequent years. Of course, one of the complications is that the return is not just concentrated in reduced use of the NHS, but comes through getting people off benefits and into work, bringing in tax revenues and reducing the number of people who end up going through the criminal justice system. For all those reasons—the impact on individuals and the extraordinary return on investment—this seems like a very good thing to do. However, as the NHS’s finances started to get tighter, there was clearly disinvestment in many places—it varied around the country, but it was happening.

My insight, as Minister responsible for mental health from September 2012, was that two particular elements of the way that the NHS works end up massively disadvantaging mental health. First, there are a set of politically demanding access standards in physical health, such as the four-hour A&E standard, the cancer waiting time standards and the 18-week referral to treatment standards. I do not know if it still happens, but in my time at the Department of Health, every Monday morning all the great and the good of the NHS sat around the Secretary of State’s table with a spreadsheet for every hospital in the country, looking at performance against those waiting time standards—in physical health. There was nothing for mental health—a complete imbalance of rights of access.

Then there is payment by results, which is actually payment for activity. It means that when patients get referred to an acute hospital, that hospital receives more income. There have been adjustments and reforms over the years, but the basic principle of incentivising activity in acute hospitals, which is not matched in mental health, combined with those exacting access standards, puts enormous pressure on the system to drive people into acute hospitals to meet those standards. That has the effect of sucking money into acute hospitals. Even during the last five to seven years of tight finances in the NHS, income for acute hospitals has continued to increase, but income for mental health and community services, which do not have those financial incentives, has stayed level or, in places, decreased.

I felt we had to start addressing those perverse incentives that were disadvantaging mental health, which amount to discrimination against people who experience mental ill health. Why should the treatment for someone who experiences psychosis be in any way inferior to the treatment of someone suffering from cancer or any other physical condition? In 2014, we decided across government to publish a vision called “Achieving Better Access to Mental Health Services by 2020”, a joint publication by the Department of Health and NHS England. The vision was to achieve comprehensive maximum waiting time standards in mental health by 2020—if only. The plan was to start with two standards: a six-week standard for access to the IAPT—improved access to psychological therapies—service and a two-week standard for early intervention in psychosis.

Critically, this was not just a two-week standard. When the Government report on whether they are meeting the standard, the focus tends to be on whether more than 50% of people start their treatment within two weeks, which was the standard set at the start. However, the standard was in two parts: to start treatment within two weeks and then to have access to the full evidence-based, NICE-approved treatment package. I will focus on that element because, depressingly, evidence shows that the system is falling far short of what it should be doing.

I want to focus on a freedom of information survey conducted over this financial year to try to establish the position across the country, looking not just at how long people wait but, critically, at whether they get access to the full evidence-based treatment package. The evidence that emerges from that survey is deeply disturbing. First, only 29% of trusts across the country stated that they were meeting the full NICE-approved, evidence-based treatment package. That is 29% on a standard that the Government say is being met. It is not being met. Even 29% is generous, because within that I think there were two trusts that were delivering the service only up to the age of 35, whereas the standard says that people up to the age of 65 should be included. Across the country, people are simply not getting access to the evidence-based treatment that we know works and delivers such an extraordinary return on investment.

I suppose I would put it this way. Can we imagine a cancer service saying to patients, “We’ll give you half the chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment,” or, “I’m sorry, but there are no professionals available to deliver this part of your treatment”? There would be an outcry. It would be impossible for the Government to get away with it. The Daily Mail would be apoplectic. We know that the result would be that the standard would be met, one way or another—but here, day by day across the NHS, this standard for mental health is routinely being missed in a wholly unacceptable way.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his important speech and his comments. Does he agree that there is a particular challenge in mental health, in that, in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, parity of esteem is enshrined in law, and we should be not just aspiring to, but achieving equality for mental health? This is just another indicator of how far we are from achieving that goal.

I totally agree. The 2012 Act is clear that there should in effect be equal treatment between mental health and physical health, but the evidence shows it is not being delivered. I fully understand that it takes time to get there with a new programme, but it is the way it is being implemented that gives me greatest cause for concern. I will focus on how we are falling short of that standard.

In the south region, there is a brilliant programme; it is always important in these debates to recognise that there are sometimes areas of fantastic practice that should be applauded. In the south of England, an amazing woman called Sarah Amani is the programme manager, and there is a full implementation programme. My argument to the Minister is that what is happening in the south should be happening everywhere. The programme produces annual reports, so it is completely open and transparent about the progress it is making and the obstacles that lie in its way.

I should have mentioned that our survey showed that across the country not much more than 50% of the total amount that NHS England says must be invested per patient is being spent per patient on delivering the service. If we are only spending a bit more than 50% of the amount we need to spend, it will fall short. What NHS England in the south is doing is admirable. It highlights that in many areas things have improved over the last year in its region, because it is driving that, but it also says:

“There is four-fold variation between the most and least funded EIP teams in the South of England.”

A fourfold variation would never happen with the cancer service. Furthermore:

“None of the providers have investment recommended to provide a NICE concordant package of care”.

In the best region of the country, no provider is meeting what it needs to spend to deliver the full package of care.

On workforce, the report says:

“Recruitment has been in part hindered by lack of extra investment and compounded by a national reduction in the number of qualified staff, particularly nurses”.

On intelligence, it says:

“Although all mental health providers use Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, the majority (13 out of 16) of providers have yet to automate reporting, resulting in clinicians having to manually troll through whole caseloads for multiple data requests.”

In this day and age, that should not be necessary. There should be a system across the country to enable us to monitor performance against that important standard. When we go through the elements of the NICE-approved treatment package, such as cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis, across the best region in the country there is enormous variation in the amount of therapy available to people. Some trusts provide what is required, but most fall short.

If we then look at comprehensive physical health checks, there is a target of 90%. We know that people with severe and enduring mental ill health die 15 to 20 years younger than other people, and that part of that can be addressed by having physical health checks. There is a Commissioning for Quality and Innovation standard established for 90% of people with severe and enduring mental ill health to have physical health checks. Across the south of England it is 56%, not 90%. Individual placement and support is a critical element of getting into work, with loads of evidence to support its effectiveness; 30% in the south of England have access to individual placement and support. Going back to what I have said, we must look at the results that flow if we make the investment. It is not only morally wrong but economically stupid to avoid making that investment.

I come now to the evidence on outcomes. The programme can show that where it does the work, hospital admissions are substantially reduced. The evidence is clear for anyone looking at the report to see. The report then looks at employment and education, where it is achieving substantially better rates of employment than generic mental health services, at 46%. Fascinatingly, it even analyses the relationship between investment and outcomes, so it can show that the more we invest in these evidence-based interventions, the better the outcomes. What a surprise: more people get into work, more people get into education and lives are transformed.

The report then talks about securing investment. Bear in mind that I am not quoting a politician but an internal document, led by the Oxford Academic Health Science Network:

“If the Five Year Forward View commitment of £40 million for EIP teams in 2015-16 had been honoured, EIP teams in the South of England would have seen a total growth in budgets of around £15 million. Instead, in 2015-16 the South region EIP teams saw a meagre increase of £3 million.”

That is £3 million instead of £15 million. The report continues:

“Between 2016-18, this trend of lack of investment has continued with a £3.5 million increase in EIP team budgets compared to the £15 million that was expected. Of the 16 providers delivering EIP in the South of England, none have the £8,250 investment per patient recommended to deliver a NICE concordant package of care. The South of England has a poor track record of investment in EIP services”.

That is the best region in the country. It leaves me feeling frustrated that such a prize—such an opportunity—is being squandered through lack of investment and lack of effective implementation.

I then look to the midlands. I have received an email from someone who is working on early intervention in psychosis in the west midlands, which reads as follows:

“There is wide variation in service quality, data reporting, outcomes, resourcing and resource allocation. This has not been made public, presumably because it is politically inexpedient to do so…Many trusts have chosen to disband EIP teams as a cost saving exercise (in Nottingham), or to allow caseloads to rise from 1:15 to 1:30”—

the whole essence of this approach is low case loads, so that people can get the personal attention that they need—

“not provide enough of the NICE mandated therapies, to not appoint psychologists or enough support workers, leading to expensive but ineffective teams…There is currently no governance or accountability in place, which enables the triangulation of proper resources, recommended service levels and outcomes.”

No governance or accountability in place across the midlands. That leaves me totally bewildered. Would this ever have happened when they implemented the cancer standards in the last decade? Of course not. Yet that is what has happened.

“There are systems in place in the north…and in the south…to provide the mechanism by which the accuracy of data, resourcing, services and outcomes can be verified and addressed…The Midlands region of England (west, central, east midlands, and East of England) are the only areas without any established regional development programmes and therefore have no reliable mechanism to prevent the inexorable decline of standards in EIP.”

That is from the frontline and, it seems to me, ought to be taken extremely seriously.

In a presentation given recently in February, in the west midlands, a west midlands clinician said:

“We are really struggling to provide an EI service that meets the NICE quality standards. Most of the focus of the Trust has been on meeting the two week access standard, which we have done most of the time. We did get some additional money, but it was non-recurring. Caseloads are way above the national average and we are really struggling”.

It then goes through the various elements of the NICE-approved programme.

“Referral rates are very high and we are discharging people sooner than we should.”

That should not be happening in a programme that the Government ought to be really proud of. It is a gem that ought to be nurtured and developed in order to get the very best from it.

When we published the survey that we did earlier this year, the response from NHS England was deeply disappointing. The official was quoted as saying:

“10,000 people each year are now receiving treatment through the early intervention in psychosis programme, with over three-quarters of patients getting treatment within two weeks…The analysis inevitably gives only a partial and dated picture of progress in these services.”

Well, I do not think that public bodies should be making misleading statements like that, because the analysis was full and complete across the whole country. It was not dated in any way. But this quote from NHS England—an anonymous quote—was designed to discredit the analysis. Rather than discrediting the analysis, it seems to me that a public body should be acknowledging the problem and addressing how it will try to solve it. This sort of denial approach is unhelpful. I wrote to the UK Statistics Authority, because I think it is inappropriate for public bodies to respond to analyses in that way.

Before I finish I want to deal with some asks of the Government. This is part of the five-year forward view. The Government have stated that it is a clear priority, so I want the Government to make it a priority. I want the Government to look at the implementation of this programme and to recognise that in some regions, nothing is happening to drive the implementation of these national standards. Personally, I think that it is intolerable that someone with psychosis in Dudley, in the west midlands, gets a raw deal compared with someone in the south of England, but that is what is happening now, because NHS England has no implementation programme in the west midlands, or across the entire midlands, including my own region—the East of England.

First, it needs sufficient investment. Given that there is a return on investment of £15 for every £1 spent, my plea to the Government is to make the investment because they will see a return on it, and benefit from improved employment rates and everything else. Secondly, address the staff shortages that are clearly—according to our survey—holding back services all over the place. It really means that Health Education England needs to create a credible plan to address the workforce shortages in early intervention in psychosis services, so that no area falls short because it cannot recruit the right people to deliver the service. Again I ask, would it happen in cancer? Of course not.

Thirdly, end the outrageous age discrimination. A quarter of the trusts that responded to our survey still have a limit of 35 on the service that is delivered, which means that anyone over the age of 35 is not getting access to the evidence-based treatment programme. Fourthly, get back on track with the two-week standard. We are also seeing that even though the standard is being met, the performance is deteriorating. The figures for early this year are worse than the whole of last year, suggesting increasing pressure on services around the country. That is important for the Government to address as well.

Fifthly, the standard applies not only to people who experience a first episode of psychosis, but to people who are at risk of psychosis; but many services simply say, “We don’t deliver a service to those people.” Of course, that is the best early intervention. If we can intervene before the psychosis has occurred, everyone benefits massively, particularly the individual concerned. In many areas, though, there is simply no service, despite the standard being very clear about what is required. Sixthly, the Government need, as I have said, to fund implementation programmes for every region, modelled on the plan and programme in the south of England, so that everywhere gets access to the same level of service.

Finally, our vision of comprehensive maximum waiting time standards in mental health by 2020 was published not just by Lib Dems, but by Conservatives. It was the Government’s vision. The point of it was to end such discrimination in a publicly funded service. It is not justifiable to have rights of access to treatment for physical health services, but not for mental health services. Why should people be left waiting, sometimes for months on end, for access to treatment? Treatment should be based on evidence and clinical need. But that vision, it seems to me, although included in the “Five Year Forward View”, is not being funded. There is no resource available to implement it. So my plea to the Government is: return to that vision. It was a good vision in 2014.

I will end by making this point: nothing that the Government could do would have a bigger impact on the wellbeing of our communities than to end the under-investment in mental health services. The best example, where the evidence is at its strongest, where you can reduce the flow of people into long-term support from secondary mental health services, is early intervention in psychosis services. There is an enormous prize to be had, but it needs investment and attention, which is lacking at the moment.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I congratulate the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on securing this debate. It is a subject that we are both passionate about, as are many people in this room. I pay tribute to the commitment that he made to mental health services during his time as a Minister and beyond.

Psychosis can be a terribly destructive condition. When it starts in adolescence, as it does for most people, people can lose out on schooling, relationships with friends and family are strained and the foundation on which the rest of people’s lives will be built is severely tested. Psychosis is not just about the symptoms—the delusions, hallucinations and suspiciousness that people feel. It is a social condition too. It often leads to a withdrawal from society—avoiding friends, avoiding leaving the house, losing schooling and losing work—and that is why it is such a pernicious condition. It can harm somebody’s life chances. It is a condition that leads to lost opportunities.

I am pleased that the right hon. Gentleman has drawn parallels between psychosis and cancer. We have not conferred, but I am also going to do so. We see how good cancer services are. It is important to have that comparator and to hold mental health services to the same standards as physical health services. We should think about psychosis in the same way as physical health services think about cancer. As soon as somebody shows signs of psychosis, they should have rapid—two-week—access to expert diagnostics. If the diagnosis is made, it is right that they get a superb package of care to give them the best possible chance of recovery. That care includes psychological therapies, medication, help with their physical health and, of course, rehabilitation.

If somebody receives that rapid package of care and support, there is half a chance that they will get back into education, employment or an apprenticeship. The rest of their life will be radically different. However, if they do not get that care, support and treatment, the figure for that drops to between 7% and 12%. That is what happens to people who do not get that package. If there was a pathway for cancer that improved survival and recovery from 10% to 50%, we would all know about it and fight for it. I am pleased that within this room there is the same passion and commitment to early intervention in psychosis.

The right hon. Gentleman outlined some of the costs to society of untreated and unmanaged psychosis, but I have a few things to add. Some 65% of all admissions to in-patient mental health units are for psychosis. The police spend increasing amounts of time detaining people under section 136, many of whom have psychosis. A lot of homelessness is associated with psychosis, and many prisoners have or had psychosis. As well as costs to society, there are also big costs to the individual. A person with a severe mental health problem such as psychosis will die, on average, 20 years younger than someone who does not. They are not dying of the psychosis; they are dying of physical health problems that are caused by their underlying mental health problems.

It is important that we are having this debate, but it is unfortunate too. In September 2016, the right hon. Gentleman led a similar debate on this very subject, and 18 months on we are learning that many of the things raised in that debate are still not happening. During that debate, the then Minister said:

“To improve access to NICE-recommended psychological therapies, we have to ensure that there are the staff numbers and the appropriate skills mix to deliver the full range of treatment to those who need it.”—[Official Report, 7 September 2016; Vol. 614, c. 163WH.]

Yet the survey conducted for the right hon. Gentleman’s recent report highlighted some worrying trends around resources and staff numbers. Many patients are not receiving the full range of treatments and interventions that should be included in the specialist EIP care package. Many trusts say that they simply do not have the staff and resources to meet demand.

I return to the analogy with cancer. The Government’s ambition is that 50%, rising to 60% by 2020, of people aged 14 to 65 experiencing a first episode of psychosis should have access to a NICE-compliant care package. If we were to replace the word “psychosis” with “cancer”, there would be outrage at that target. Why should it not be 90% or 95%? Why should the ambition not be 100%? If we were talking about cancer, we would already be hiring the radiologists, laboratory scientists, surgeons, nurses and technicians that we need for the pathway. I want to give credit where credit is due. Setting a 50% standard is at least a step towards achieving parity of esteem, but that ambition is clearly not yet a reality.

NHS England’s data show that more than 60% of patients start treatment within two weeks of referral. However, if we look at the data in a different way and ask people who have started treatment how long they waited, the figures paint a very different picture. In January 2018, even though 722 patients had started treatment within two weeks of referral, 1,344 patients were still waiting to start treatment, and more than 700 had been waiting more than two weeks. We are talking about figures, but those figures represent people—more than 700 people who were waiting in January of this year. Often these are young people who are not going to school because of new mental health problems that could be managed. During that time relationships are breaking down, people are losing their jobs and people’s life chances are being harmed.

There is regional disparity as well. The north of England, where my constituency of Stockton South is, has the lowest proportion of pathways completed within two weeks of referral and the highest number of total referrals still awaiting treatment. It seems that we have not yet put sufficient resources into our mental health services for the psychologists, occupational therapists, mental health nurses and care co-ordinators who are important to implement this pathway. I have to say that the staff who are working in this area are doing amazing work and transforming lives. I would like to thank them for what they do, but this now needs to be taken to another level and delivered to a much greater scale.

The right hon. Gentleman’s research shows that mental health trusts invest, on average, just half the amount that NHS England estimates is needed to provide EIP in line with NICE guidelines. As he stated, only 29% of trusts say that they are able to offer their patients the full NICE package of care. I urge the Minister to acknowledge that service providers still have ground to make up, and to recognise that they need greater support and resources to do so.

I really hope that the Minister responds with a plan to make things better for the people who we all know are still not getting the service that they need. I have no doubt of her personal commitment to improving mental health services, but she must match rhetoric with ensuring that commissioners are actually putting significant amounts of extra money into mental health services on the ground, and that providers are turning that cash into services that meet the needs of these priority patients. If this were cancer instead of psychosis, we would be doing it—let’s make parity of esteem a reality.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon. I congratulate the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on proposing this debate to the Backbench Business Committee—a proposal for which I was a signatory—and securing this important and timely discussion.

The right hon. Gentleman and I have shared many platforms in supporting joint campaigns, and we have debated often the state of our mental health services. We have come to expect from him a level of forensic detail, commitment to improvement and genuine compassion for those with severe mental illness, and today he has not disappointed. We may have very small differences in approach or policy, but he and I share a big-picture commitment to world-class mental health services in this country; to genuine, tangible parity of esteem—real equality—between physical and mental health services; and to a transformation in the way that we view mental illness, talk about mental illness and treat those with mental health conditions.

As with many other forms of mental illness, all the experience and evidence point to the fact that the best time to intervene in cases of psychosis is as soon as possible. The work of Professor Patrick McGorry in Australia and proponents of early intervention in the UK clearly shows that early intervention can have a huge impact on the health of the individual patient, with more chance of them living with conditions in a managed way and ultimately more chance of their recovery.

I echo some of the right hon. Gentleman’s points about the benefits of getting back into employment and the importance of accessing individual placement and support. That is a well-evidenced measure that has already made a tangible difference to many people living with mental ill health. I will reflect on the experience in my area, Merseyside, where Mersey Care provides the majority of mental health services, including early intervention in psychosis. It did an audit of all the patients that it looks after in both the community and in-patient services. It is staggering that just 3% of their patients are in any form of employment. If we compare that figure with people in physical health services, the inequality—the massive disparity—when it comes to mental health is a great concern. That strikes at the heart of the issues that we are discussing.

It should not surprise hon. Members that the earlier we treat any condition, be that a mental or physical health condition, the more likely we are to get a positive result. In terms of system reform in the health service, early intervention clearly fits into the mantra of prevention being better than cure. I have said it before, but I will say it again: if people are not convinced of how important this is by the moral and social reasons, the financial and economic consequences of not contending with mental health sooner should be enough.

For the NHS to be sustainable in the long term, when it will increasingly have to contend with lifestyle-related diseases, we need a seismic shift from treating diseases and conditions when they present in crisis in their most acute forms to a system that allows us to detect them in their earliest stages, to manage them with early interventions and to do everything to avoid certain conditions in the first place, although that is not always possible. That is as true of mental illness as it is of cancer, cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

The issue is not just health outcomes, but the impact that psychosis has on the totality of an individual’s life and their opportunity to be involved in education, employment and training, to maintain relationships with family and friends, to own a home or maintain a tenancy, to be able to go to work and to not be in our criminal justice system. Those outcomes have far-reaching and long-term consequences that are not contained solely within the Department of Health and Social Care, although a Health Minister will respond to today’s debate.

With that in mind, in February 2016, the Labour Front Bench, including me as the then shadow Minister for Mental Health, welcomed the inclusion of the access and waiting time standard for early intervention in psychosis in “The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health”. The commitment was that NHS England should ensure that by April 2016, 50% of people experiencing a first episode of psychosis had access to a NICE-approved care package within two weeks of referral, rising to at least 60% by 2020-21.

It is important to reiterate that laudable target and ambition. It was modest, but it was an important first step and it was welcomed across the House, so it is with heavy hearts that we review progress since then, and realise that the system is failing to reach the target stipulated in the “The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health”.

Once again, we should recognise the detailed work of the right hon. Member for North Norfolk in unearthing the emerging picture from across the country. Every Minister’s worst nightmare is the ex-Minister armed with the tools of freedom of information requests and parliamentary questions, and who knows the darkest secrets at the heart of the Department.

We now know that the access and waiting time standard for early intervention in psychosis is not being met. Too many providers cannot offer the full NICE-approved package of care. There is variation across the country, with, as ever, the poorest people in the poorest parts of the country receiving the poorest levels of service. That real inequality is a social justice issue.

I echo the concerns expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (Dr Williams) about the figures for his constituency in the north of England. The north of England commissioning region has the lowest proportion of completed pathways and the highest number of total referrals still awaiting treatment—two thirds. That should be a serious concern for us all. The inverse care law, first identified some 40 years ago, is alive and kicking when it comes to mental health services.

The latest picture published by NHS England shows that far from the steady progress we all desire, the proportion of patients in the early stages of psychosis that started treatment within the two-week target was lower in January than it was in May 2016. In the first 10 months of 2017-18, 9.1% fewer patients started EIP treatment within the two-week target, compared with the first 10 months of 2016-17.

Behind those figures, as other hon. Members have indicated, are real people who are suffering the early manifestations of psychosis, which can be extremely disturbing for them and for their friends and family. I have had the privilege of visiting a number of in-patient units, not just in my constituency but across the country, and I have heard first hand about patients’ experiences. The longer they have to wait, the greater the negative impact can be on their condition and on their chance of recovery.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists points out that if people do not receive help early enough, they are more likely to experience poor physical health, lower levels of social functioning, and poorer occupational and educational outcomes. That is a serious concern for us all, which is why we are here this afternoon.

We also have to think about what happens in the future. I am grateful to YoungMinds for its analysis of the sustainability and transformation partnerships, due out next month, which shows that less than a quarter of STP plans demonstrate an explicit commitment and clear plan to meet the EIP target for 2020-21. It is not just about what has happened in the past and looking at the results retrospectively, but about what will happen in the coming years. The Government have endeavoured to have STPs, and the EIP target should be at the heart of what they are doing. Unfortunately, it is not, despite the fact that the implementation of that waiting time target is one of the nine requirements for STPs, as set out in the NHS planning guidance.

I will turn to an area that is of particular interest to me. In the year since the birth of my child, I have been even more aware of the need to support the mental health of new mums. Around 85% of new mothers experience some change in their mood, and for around 10% to 15% of them, that might mean more serious symptoms of anxiety and depression. More than 1,400 women experience post-partum psychosis each year in the UK, which is between 1 and 2 in every 1,000 mothers. I was struck that a woman is between 30% and 40% more likely to experience a period of psychosis in the year after childbirth—more than at any other point in her life.

Post-partum psychosis can take many forms, including hallucinations, depression, delusions and mania. It can be extremely distressing for mothers, their partners, their wider families, and of course, the child. I have had the opportunity to visit two mother and baby units across the country to hear from mums first hand. The condition does not discriminate. It can affect women of any background, colour and income, and it can have serious and far-reaching consequences.

The National Childbirth Trust, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and others have specifically highlighted the paucity of provision of mental health services for new mothers and the effectiveness of the six-week check in identifying the early stages of mental ill health, including psychosis. In the mix of the debate, I hope the Minister will be able to comment on that.

I, too, have read the National Childbirth Trust’s report, “The Hidden Half”. It says that despite it being a vulnerable time for women, more than half of women who experience post-natal mental health problems say that they were not asked about them by any health professional. Will my hon. Friend join me in calling for that to be added to the GP contract so that GPs routinely provide a six-week check for the mother, as part of the six-week check for the baby?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important report and the campaign, which I have considered as well. The National Childbirth Trust makes an important point about the connection that GPs have with new mums and their babies. I recall that my GP did ask me about my mental wellbeing and how I felt, but that is not the case for every mum. It is something that we should consider, along with ensuring that every contact counts when it comes to new mums and their babies—be that with the health visitor, a midwife who might come to the home or someone in the hospital. We need to look at the whole spectrum of engagement to ensure that we consider the mental health of mum and baby every step of the way.

I mentioned mother and baby units, which are incredibly important. For anyone who does not know, they are an opportunity to ensure that if the mum is experiencing a period of psychosis or another serious mental illness, they are still able to be with their child. The units offer extremely specialised care and incredible attention from clinicians, who do a remarkable job of ensuring attachment so that mums are not disconnected from their babies, even if they have to be moved across the country.

Mother and baby units are very important for recovery rates. I have asked several parliamentary questions about them, but I want to ask more in the context of this debate because of their importance to mums who experience post-partum psychosis. In January, I asked the Secretary of State, in a written question,

“how many mother and baby beds commissioned by NHS England Specialised Services in 2016/17 are (a) available and (b) in use.”

I asked that because although we know that beds have been commissioned, it is not clear whether they are available or in use. The figures that I received in response to a previous question showed a decrease of one in the number of beds available across the country since 2010. I ask the Minister the same question again, publicly, because her response in January was:

“The information requested is not available.”

I do not think that it is a difficult question to answer. In the context of this debate, it is a very important one, so I hope the Minister’s officials will provide her with an answer today. Post-partum psychosis, no less than any other kind, requires early identification and early intervention, but we are not doing enough to treat or support post-partum psychosis alongside other forms.

Let me conclude with some brief questions that I hope the Minister will address. First, what steps is her Department taking to address mental health inequalities and the waiting times postcode lottery, particularly in cases of early episodes of psychosis?

Secondly, how can the Minister guarantee that money allocated for mental health services is actually reaching the frontline in all the areas in which it is needed? There are many examples of mental health budgets being raided to pay for other parts of the NHS.

Thirdly, does the Minister agree with the Royal College of Psychiatrists that we need to improve the financial data available for early intervention in psychosis services? Without it, we cannot be sure that services are properly investing in EIP.

Fourthly, does the Minister believe that frontline mental health services have adequate numbers of staff—including psychiatrists, mental health nurses and therapists—to meet the targets set out in the five year forward view? I echo the praise of other hon. Members for our frontline clinicians, who do an incredible job under very challenging circumstances but are severely stretched, as we hear time and again. They cannot meet the workforce challenge alone.

Lastly, what steps will the Minister take to drastically improve early intervention in cases of post-partum psychosis, especially at the six-week check for new mothers, so that we can support women in the first weeks after the birth of their baby?

I congratulate the right hon. Member for North Norfolk again on securing the debate. Let us hope that our deliberations this afternoon will lead to concrete improvements and swift action from the Government to prevent unnecessary psychosis, intervene early to prevent unnecessary suffering, and help as many people as possible across the country towards a meaningful path to recovery.

I have been trying to think about how to put the experience of psychosis into words. Having observed it rather than experienced it personally, I suspect that I will not do it justice. From my observation, however, it is a devastating thing to experience: it is debilitating, frightening, bewildering and enormously destructive to someone’s life, aims and prospects. Its impact on people’s lives is severe, as other hon. Members have described.

In the past, a diagnosis of psychosis was essentially a life sentence, but now early intervention and treatment can lead to recovery. People can get their lives back on track—we are not in the dark old days when if someone had a mental illness, that was it. People can and should recover, but getting early treatment is crucial.

I will be brief, not only because you said that the winding-up speeches would begin at half-past 2, Mrs Moon, but because the issue has been covered comprehensively by the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb), who has such huge knowledge and has clearly done an enormous amount of groundwork; by the hon. Member for Stockton South (Dr Williams), who brings to the debate his expertise as a doctor; and by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger), who does a huge amount of work in the area. I will therefore make only three points.

First, I express my appreciation to the Government, and to the Minister, for their enormous commitment to mental health and their huge focus on improving mental healthcare, achieving parity of esteem and ensuring that far more people have access to treatment, starting from a really low base. They set out that commitment in the “Five Year Forward View”, the most comprehensive strategy for mental health, and have demonstrated it with an increase in mental healthcare funding and with greater transparency. The fact that we can even have this debate, and that there are targets for waiting times and access to mental health, represents great progress from the time described by the right hon. Member for North Norfolk, when targets and transparency were making a huge difference to the quality of physical healthcare but there was no information about the quality of mental healthcare or access to it. We now have a developing, albeit early, set of data about access to mental healthcare. There is a long way to go, and that includes getting much more data about progress through treatment and outcomes, but the access data has at least given us a start. I welcome the fact that we are in a better place with mental healthcare, and that there is a great commitment to improvement.

My second point, however, is about the worrying trend in the treatment of people with psychosis. The direction of travel seems to be towards a decline in early access to treatment—not just in percentage terms, which could be explained by rising demand, but as an absolute number. The data cited by the right hon. Member for North Norfolk shows the gap between the treatment that some patients receive and the full recommended amount. A large number receive only some treatment, so we cannot hope for the recovery and outcomes that the full NICE-recommended package would offer.

My third point is that we need to know the reason for this worrying trend, which goes against our ambition to treat more people and help them to recover, and against the Government’s commitment to mental health. What is going on? Why do we appear to be going in the wrong direction? We have heard some possible reasons this afternoon, including lack of governance and accountability; lack of focus in many parts of the country, although there is clearly huge variation; underfunding of treatment packages, despite the overall backdrop of more money going into mental health; and shortage of workforce. Under the “Five Year Forward View”, there were meant to be 60 extra psychiatrists to provide early intervention in psychosis, but it is not clear—perhaps the Minister will tell us—whether those posts have been filled. It is clear to all hon. Members who work on mental health issues that the workforce is facing a huge challenge in recruitment and retention.

Is there a lack of ambition to provide early access to treatment for psychosis? Even achieving the 2020-21 target of 60% would leave 40% of people without much-needed treatment; we could argue that that is too low an ambition, especially as we know how effective treatment can be. I welcome the Government’s commitment, but it is worrying that the direction of travel seems not to be positive, so it would be extremely helpful if the Minister gave us some insight into what is going on and what steps are being taken to ensure that people get treatment that works.

Thank you for calling me, Mrs Moon. I should perhaps have said earlier that I would take only a short amount of time in my winding-up speech, particularly as we are discussing a devolved issue. I hope that the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) did not have to cut what was a very good speech short. I should perhaps have indicated to you, Mrs Moon, that I only intended to take a short amount of time, to enable everyone to get the full coverage.

It is a pleasure to speak with you in the chair, Mrs Moon, on this very important subject. I congratulate the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on securing the debate and pay tribute to his awareness-raising and campaigning work on this important issue over a great number of years, as has been mentioned. I also commend him for his detailed and comprehensive speech and, as I have indicated, for bringing people together today in search of consensual debate, especially when we consider that the topic is health, which normally divides political opinion. On this occasion it has rather united political opinion, so I commend him for that.

The right hon. Gentleman’s powerful speech was supported by others. The hon. Member for Stockton South (Dr Williams) spoke of the stark reality that sadly faces people who do not get access to early intervention following diagnosis with psychosis. He spoke with experience and knowledge of this issue, and added greatly to the debate. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) has also worked tirelessly for a number of years on this issue. The statistic she cited—that just 3% of those with psychosis in her area are in employment—is quite frankly staggering. She also spoke of the prevalence of mental health vulnerability for women after childbirth. For me, those two issues alone, among all the others, highlight the importance of getting this right across all areas and why we all need to do more in all areas of this country, and all Governments should do that.

Forgive me, but in my remarks I was due to pass on a contribution by the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson), who wanted it made known on the parliamentary record that there is no mother and baby unit in Northern Ireland. Although the issue is not devolved, he wanted that point about the availability of support for new mums to be made in the context of this debate.

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention; it is clearly important that that is put on the record.

Also, as I have already indicated, the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent made a very honest speech. Her observations from her clinical experience highlighted how destructive psychosis is, so I pay tribute to her for her contribution. I hope that the Minister will respond not only to hers, but to all the points raised by right hon. and hon. Members.

This issue is important, because when the Prime Minister entered Downing Street on 13 July 2016, she listed a number of “burning injustices” that she hoped to address, in order to make Britain

“a country that works for everyone”,

among which was the injustice that

“If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.”

Clearly, such rhetoric is to be welcomed, as is the Prime Minister’s promise that parity of esteem would be introduced in dealing with mental health services in the NHS in England. However, as demonstrated in I think all the speeches today, we have not really got to the point of matching that rhetoric with actions and outcomes. I think there was a universal acknowledgement in today’s speeches that not enough is being done.

Today’s debate focuses specifically on psychosis and the waiting-time standards for early intervention in this area. As we are all too aware, mental health in general often comes with many stigmas and misconceptions attached, and that is nowhere more apparent than in relation to the subject of today’s debate. In psychosis, people experience symptoms of paranoia, and often delusional belief systems that take them outwith reality—that was covered so well by the hon. Member for Stockton South. It affects sufferers socially and in terms of their work, education and overall health. Although only a small proportion of the population are impacted by psychosis, particularly compared with other mental health issues, its impact on the individual and those around them can be devastating, and sufferers require long-term support and help to recover.

As my hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron), who is herself a clinical psychologist, pointed out in a similar Westminster Hall debate in September 2016, behavioural family therapy is also extremely important. Psychosis affects not just the person who suffers, but their whole family and social circle. People can suddenly find themselves in a caring role, and research indicates that spending 10 hours or more a week as a carer can be a challenge to someone’s wellbeing.

As the subject of today’s debate and the contributions of many Members have made clear, early intervention is key to ensuring that the support and recovery process can be as successful as possible, for both the individual and those around them. In Scotland, the Scottish National party Government have made mental health one of their main priorities, and they will continue to place a high importance on mental health services. A key part of that prioritisation in relation to psychosis has been focusing on prevention and early intervention, particularly for infants, children and young people—it has already been said why that is important—who are the groups most likely to be impacted by the first episodes of psychosis.

Analysis undertaken by the King’s Fund recommended that

“Providing high-quality care to patients requires two things: first, that NHS trusts have the revenue to recruit and retain the correct mix of staff, and second that these staff exist and want to work for the NHS. Our analysis highlights that there are underlying issues with the supply and availability of key staffing groups in mental health. Investing in the skills, job satisfaction and wellbeing of our current workforce should be a priority, but we must also invest to ensure sufficient workforce capacity.”

In Scotland, the Government have attempted to address those important staffing and funding issues by increasing NHS mental health spending from £651 million in 2006-07 to £937 million in 2016-17, which has enabled the aim of placing an additional 800 mental health workers in key settings by 2022 to remain on course.

However, I am not trying to argue that there is no room for improvement in Scotland—clearly there is—and that everything is as good as it can be. Clearly, there is more that we could and should do. The Scottish Government are aware that there is room for improvement and their “Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027” has identified a number of areas where further improvements can be made. In particular, the strategy acknowledges that

“Working to improve mental health care is not just the preserve of the NHS or the health portfolio.”

Instead, improving mental health care requires improving a wide range of public services, such as education and justice, as well as addressing other important societal problems, such as poverty and employment, all of which have a relationship with mental health and a role to play in improving health outcomes.

Again, I commend the right hon. Member for North Norfolk, and I hope that the Minister, when she replies, will reflect on all the comments from the right hon. Gentleman and from others, and respond to the examples given from the frontline and to the asks that he and others from different parties have made today.

As has already been said, and I will echo it, it is a pleasure to speak in this debate with you in the Chair, Mrs Moon.

I also join others in congratulating the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on securing this important debate, and on the way that he opened it. In addition, I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Stockton South (Dr Williams) and for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger), as well as the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately), and the hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts (Neil Gray), the Scottish National party spokesperson, for their contributions.

Experience of psychosis can be frightening for those affected by it, and for their families. The hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent talked about how debilitating and frightening that experience of psychosis can be.

A story that came to my attention was from a woman called Louise, who wrote a blog for Mind, the mental health charity. In that blog, she described her experience of psychosis. She said:

“While everyone was celebrating the Olympics, I was sectioned and spent a week in hospital. I had started to hear voices and was living in a very strange world. Being in hospital was a terrifying experience and I couldn’t understand why I was there or what had happened to me. I thought the nurses were trying to kill me and I refused medication. Eventually, I accepted the drugs and I did recover. I was released after a week and received treatment in the community.”

The interesting thing about that story and blog is that Louise goes on to say:

“Even a year on, I still find it hard to accept that this happened to me: an independent, strong career woman.”

I wanted to touch on this story because it demonstrates how psychosis affected somebody who was

“an independent, strong career woman”.

The story shows, even in those few words, how debilitating and frightening a first experience of psychosis can be.

Given that, and we have heard about it extensively in this debate, it is clear that early intervention and access to treatment for psychosis is a really vital issue: a moral issue, an emotional issue, a financial issue, and an issue of investment. It is about helping people when they are at their most vulnerable and supporting them to recover.

From this debate alone, the evidence is clear that early intervention can significantly improve a patient’s mental health recovery. That has been highlighted by all the contributions we have heard today. One of the most important benefits of early intervention—this has not yet been mentioned—is the finding in studies that it can reduce the risk of a young person who is experiencing psychosis attempting suicide. That is clearly an important thing. As we have heard, the care packages approved by NICE can also have an impact beyond the mental health recovery of a patient, impacting on their physical health and their chances of remaining in employment. Each part is vital. A key statistic comes from the mental health charity Rethink. It found that 35% of young people in early intervention in psychosis care are in employment, as compared with just 12% of young people in standard mental health care. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk discussed that.

The access and waiting time standard for early intervention in psychosis is not being met, partly because the official figures are for patients who have started treatment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South discussed, YoungMinds has stated that in January 2018, even though 722 patients had started treatment within two weeks of referral, 1,344 patients were still waiting to start treatment, and 727 of them had been waiting more than two weeks since referral. We are getting a partial picture from NHS England. We were all sent a briefing this morning that said that the access standards are being met, but they clearly are not if they are not taking account of patients who are waiting. The figures for January 2018 also showed that 401 patients had been waiting more than six weeks and still not started treatment, and 217 patients had been waiting for more than 12 weeks without starting treatment. As is familiar when we are looking at issues around mental health, it is the people waiting for long periods who we have to reflect on.

We have also heard about the regional variations. This has been an important debate for highlighting them. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk reported in detail on performance in the south region, which is the best-performing region. YoungMinds reported that the north of England is the worst-performing region. It has the lowest proportion of pathways completed within two weeks of referral.

It is clear that the Government have not invested in the staffing and resources needed to deliver the full package of NICE-evidenced support and treatments. It is clear that many local areas are facing challenges in implementing the early intervention in psychosis access and waiting time standard because of those substantial variations. What is the Minister’s assessment of how those challenges can be overcome? That is one of the most important questions from today.

We have had a briefing this morning from NHS England on the NICE-recommended interventions and the scoring matrix to be used, including on carer support. The hon. Member for Airdrie and Shotts mentioned carers, but I will discuss the subject a bit more fully. Psychosis can cause considerable distress not only for the person experiencing it, but for their family members who are carers. Why are the targets for carer support so low within that NICE evidence package? The figures that NHS England sent to us this morning show 38% of carer support taken up against targets of 25%, 50% and 75% for 2017-18. Take-up of support by fewer than four out of 10 carers is a poor achievement, given the impact that psychosis can have on unpaid carers.

I do not want to miss the opportunity to question the Government about the shameful way they have been treating carers in recent months. I have raised this before with the Minister, but the Government have abandoned their promised carers strategy after 6,500 carers gave up their time to contribute to the consultation. I know it is not her responsibility any more, but it was at the time, and she gave this reply to me in December. She said that,

“it is very important to pull together exactly what support there is at present and then respond to that, and we will publish our action plan in January”.—[Official Report, 7 December 2017; Vol. 632, c. 1239.]

It is now the middle of March, and we have no carers strategy and no carers action plan. Will the Minister raise the matter with her colleague the Minister for Care, the hon. Member for Gosport (Caroline Dinenage)? I suggest that the Government stop treating carers in this shabby way. In terms of this debate, will the Minister look at the low targets for carer support in the targets for early intervention in psychosis? Will she set a more ambitious target to provide higher levels of support to carers of people experiencing psychosis?

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree rightly raised the issue of perinatal mental ill health. As we have just had International Women’s Day, I wanted to refer to the 2003 women’s mental health strategy. It was a comprehensive strategy for women’s mental health issues from the previous Labour Government. I was glancing at the document on my iPad, and section 8.8 is about women with perinatal mental ill health. What has happened to the previous Labour Government’s comprehensive women’s mental health strategy? Does the Minister agree that perinatal mental ill health and other aspects of women’s mental ill health merit a gender-specific approach? Will the Government start to think about implementing that?

I want to briefly touch on one further area of concern—the lack of good-quality data. All of us involved in these debates on mental health have to spend a large amount of time asking parliamentary questions that do not get answers because the data are not there. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk is to be commended for his freedom of information survey. In 2016, Public Health England produced a report into data around psychosis and found what the Centre for Mental Health has described as “massive inequalities” in care, which is just what we have been hearing about in this debate. The report found that the proportion of people who have experienced psychosis who have a comprehensive care plan ranges from around 4% in some local areas to 94% in others. The evidence was there in 2016 that massive variations existed.

As the Centre for Mental Health put it:

“The report is as remarkable, however, for the data it cannot present as for what it can. There is very little information about the lives of people with psychosis and how far the services available help them to recover”.

The report was unable to give any information about the prescribing of anti-psychosis medication. Shockingly, it found that there were no known recent robust estimates of local numbers of people with psychosis. How can we deal with recruitment and staffing issues and the resources plan that Members have talked about if that is the state of the data?

I appreciate that there have been some improvements in mental health data in recent years, but it has been very slow progress and there are still many gaps. The Government talk about parity of esteem between mental and physical health, but it is hard to imagine a situation where we did not know the number of people in a local area being diagnosed with different cancers. That situation just would not arise. When I meet campaigners who work on mental health issues, the lack of readily available data is a constant and major concern.

The former Under-Secretary of State for Health, Nicola Blackwood, liked to talk about accountability through transparency. She said:

“One of the ways in which we are ensuring that money reaches the frontline is through driving accountability through transparency. Mental health services have lagged behind the rest of the NHS in terms of data and our being able to track performance. That is why the NHS will shortly publish the mental health dashboard, which will show not only performance but planned and actual spend on mental health.”—[Official Report, 27 October 2016; Vol. 616, c. 513.]

We still have that severe problem. Despite the publication of the mental health dashboard, we have a far less clear picture for mental health data than we do for physical health. We will never be able to plan, resource or move through these issues unless we do. What is the Minister doing, and planning to do, to make better data available across mental health services, particularly for psychosis?

I briefly return to Louise’s story. She was lucky. She said in her blog that she received good-quality treatment. Despite going through some difficult times, when she wrote the blog she was positive about her future, her relationships and her career. She was looking forward to starting a family. If we want to live in a society that has more positive stories like Louise’s, we have to begin to take a much more preventive approach to mental health. Getting the right support can lead to brighter days.

It is fitting that you are in the Chair for this debate, Mrs Moon, given your interest in these matters. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) for securing this debate. It is always with some mixed feelings that I face him across the Chamber, not least for the reasons that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) pointed out. However, this has been an extremely well-informed debate on both sides. I have not disagreed with very much of what has been said. It is great to respond to such a passionate debate, among people who genuinely care about the issue.

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that improving access and waiting times for early intervention in psychosis must be a top priority. I will set out some of the things that we are doing, which I hope will reassure him of the direction of travel. He is rightly holding us to account on where we are. I quite agree that it is not good enough, and assure all Members who have participated in today’s debate that I am not complacent in any way about any of this.

First, I want to set the context. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree often challenges me that we have not achieved parity of esteem. I do not pretend that we yet have, but we have embarked on a genuinely transformational programme to raise the treatment of mental health issues to parity with physical health. However, that is essentially a cultural change, which will take time.

I want to set out that we do have a plan, to reassure the hon. Member for Stockton South (Dr Williams). We have now got to the stage in that plan where we have to be a lot more outcome focused, and really get to the grit of what is happening on the ground. As the right hon. Member for North Norfolk set out, there is widespread regional variation. We have to ensure that we are not only increasing access, but doing so in a consistent way. There are lots of challenges in doing that. People have raised the issue of the workforce. Obviously, we cannot magic up a workforce overnight, but there are plans to address that issue.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Secretary of State’s weekly meetings where we interrogate health officials. I assure him that we are reviewing each individual mental health trust to scrutinise their performance, and the Care Quality Commission advises us on a weekly basis about that performance. I assure him that it is improving—it has massively improved, in fact—but there is still more to be done.

When we bring in standards and targets, the risk is always that we build in perverse incentives, and that institutions can game the system. Until the data we collect is embedded properly, there will be some risk of that, but we have to be on it. I acknowledge the right hon. Gentleman’s pivotal role in introducing those standards, and all his work in Government to drive this agenda. Having inherited his mantle, I look forward to him continuing to challenge me to deliver what he set in train.

Given that time is short, I want to home in on what we are doing to implement the waiting time for early intervention. The latest data that we have shows that we are exceeding the target of 50% for access to early intervention in psychosis services, with more than 70% of patients starting treatment within two weeks in the most recent quarter. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has rightly raised concerns about his freedom of information request on mental health trusts. Only 29% of 49 trusts that returned the request could expressly confirm that they were able to deliver the full NICE-concordant packages of care to their patients. To reassure him, the moment at which he made his request was at the start of the programme.

It was measuring the kick-start of the programme. I would hope that if the right hon. Gentleman repeated that in a year’s time, he would get a very different picture. I assure him that we are making progress, but I invite him to continue his scrutiny, because sunlight is the best disinfectant, as I often say.

The hon. Member for Stockton South asked whether we had a plan. We do. The issue is that our plan is often based on inputs and structures. It is only when we get the kind of analysis that the right hon. Member for North Norfolk applies that we can see whether an input is really delivering the outcome that we want. Using our tools of leadership, we are now ensuring that we are holding everyone’s feet to the fire to deliver those standards, and that we are actually implementing the plan that we have in place.

To give some detail on what that plan is, we are investing an initial recurrent £40 million per annum for EIP in clinical commissioning group baselines. That will rise to £70 million recurrently by 2021. I have heard the message loud and clear from all hon. Members that they want to be reassured that that money is reaching the frontline. We will go away and think about how we can best illuminate that. We are funding clinical networks in all regions to provide clinical leadership for implementation, and to support local efforts across the country. Those networks provide a great deal of support on sharing best practice, training and innovation. Quite often, sharing best practice can be the best way of driving improvement.

We are investing in a national team to co-ordinate regional teams and to support the monitoring of delivery through the regions. We are developing the data set to illustrate how much progress we are making and how the interventions are being delivered to people. That will allow commissioners and providers to prioritise how they develop and improve their services in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance. What is especially welcome is that there is now a recognition of the link between mental and physical health in NHS England’s work, although we have to continue to build on that.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree rightly raised the issue of support for new mums. I am glad to hear that she has visited mother and baby units, as I have. Seeing the reality of that treatment shows how important that service is. We continue to prioritise investment in tackling post-partum psychosis. We are investing £365 million into those services, and are currently looking at issuing contracts for four new mother and baby units. She asked me some specific questions about the number of beds. I will write to her on that, because although it might seem like a simple question, it is slightly more complex. As she has rightly highlighted, it is a very vulnerable time for new mothers. We must ensure that we have services available across the country, as we still have some geographical discrepancies in the level of provision. I highlight the fact that we are putting more support for new mums in the community, based around the whole ethos of early intervention. I think that is extremely important.

I could say an awful lot more, but I promise hon. Members that all those who spoke in today’s debate have given me many things to think about, and I will reflect on them. I look forward to debating all these measures regularly. It remains the Government’s priority to deliver a step change in how we provide services for poor mental health. That is a cultural change, and it will take time. That is why we have it as a five-year forward view. We will make the investment in additional staffing resources to deliver that step change, but I have no doubt that all hon. Members in this room will continue to hold my feet to the fire to make sure that we deliver.

I thank the Minister for that response. I ask her to write to all hon. Members who have taken part in today’s debate, responding to each of the issues that have been raised, so that we get clear answers on them all. I would highlight two points. First, regional implementation plans are critical in making things happen. Secondly, a point was made earlier about the sustainability and transformation partnerships. If a significant proportion of them simply do not include a commitment to meeting the standard by 2020, that is basically a recipe for disaster. That has to be addressed.

I thank the other two Front-Bench spokespeople for their really excellent contributions. The point that was made about suicide was absolutely right: we can reduce the suicide rate through this programme in particular. I also thank the three Back-Bench contributions, which were all really excellent and well informed, and covered such important ground. In the Minister’s response, I would like her to deal particularly with the YoungMinds point about the calculation of how long people are waiting. I would like her to address the issue about only a quarter of STPs making that commitment by 2020, and the issue of post-partum psychosis that was correctly raised by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger).

Finally, I join others in expressing my appreciation for some incredibly inspiring staff who work in these services, and who demonstrate how lives can be transformed through doing the right thing with the necessary investment. The plea to the Minister is to make sure that the investment and implementation are there to take advantage of this opportunity.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered access and waiting time standards for early intervention in psychosis.