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Mental Health Services

Volume 721: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2022

The NHS long-term plan commits to investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year by the next financial year to expand and transform mental health services in England. That will be supported by an additional 27,000 mental health professionals in the workforce to deliver that transformation.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I recently met the child and adolescent mental health services team in Harrogate, and they confirmed that there are long waiting lists for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism diagnosis. Will the Minister consider the criteria to help those who need the service most to get the support they need?

I thank my hon. Friend, who raises a good point. He does a huge amount of campaigning in Harrogate and Knaresborough on this issue. We recognise there can be long waits for diagnosis both for ADHD and autism, and that is why we refreshed our national autism strategy last year, backed by more than £74 million to help to reduce diagnosis waiting times. NHS England is now setting out the process of how children, young people and adults might receive a diagnostic assessment much more quickly.

Delayed discharge from mental health beds is preventing people from getting the treatment that they need. In fact, in Humber NHS trust 42% of learning disability beds are taken by people with delayed discharge, 5.5% of secure beds have patients in waiting for adult social care, as do 70% of adult mental health beds, 22% of CAMHS beds and 27% of community beds. To deal with the problem in mental health, we need to deal with the problem of lack of adult social care placements. When will the Government be able to fix that?

The Government actually started working on the plans around delayed discharges this summer, because of course they affect mental health services. They also affect a range of acute beds. With the winter coming, we know that there will be additional pressure on those beds, and that is why we are working with local government social care services and integrated care boards which have responsibility for that in their local areas.

In the last four weeks, there have been three investigations on abuse in in-patient mental health settings. The Government should be on top of the situation, not relying on undercover reports from Sky, The Independent, or “Panorama” that show patients languishing in seclusion, excessive use of restraints, bullying and dehumanisation, and falsification of medical records. Patients and their families rightly expect to be safe. Tory chaos has meant that the Government have not engaged with abuse allegations. For weeks there has been no functioning mental health Minister. Will the Minister conduct a rapid review of mental health services, respond to our concerns about in-patient services and apologise to patients and their families now?

Of course we apologise for the cases that we have seen; anyone who watched some of those programmes will have seen the distressing and unacceptable care. I am the Minister with responsibility not just for mental health but for patient safety, so I will be looking at the cases in “Panorama” and other programmes, and at cases across the board, because I want to ensure that in-patient mental health services are as safe as possible. We know that these are some of the most vulnerable patients who often cannot speak out when there are problems. We are looking at the staffing, training and reporting mechanisms. On the case that was highlighted in “Panorama”, the Government are working closely with NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and the individual trusts.