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Complex Mental Health Needs: Young People

Volume 733: debated on Tuesday 6 June 2023

2. What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the treatment and care available for young people with complex mental health needs. (905208)

We have recruited an extra 4,500 NHS children’s mental health specialists, which is a 40% increase on 2019. That is part of our additional £2.3 billion of investment into mental health services, compared to four years ago.

Earlier this year, I was contacted by a mother who told me how her daughter, who has been both autistic and anorexic, has been receiving treatment since she was 13. Sadly, her condition has significantly deteriorated in that time, and it is her firm belief that closer integration of the different services she was accessing would have resulted in much better outcomes for her daughter. Will the Secretary of State consider a review of mental health services for children and young people, to look at how to better integrate services and ensure continuity of care?

I am sure the whole House is sorry to hear that her constituent’s condition has deteriorated. The hon. Lady raises a very important point about integration, which is exactly the right approach. The 2022 reforms were about integrating health and social care and empowering commissioners to take a more integrated place-based approach. I am sure her local commissioners will take note of the valid point that she raises.

A 14-year old climbing out of hospital windows; a child absconding to a local railway station; a teenager with complex needs brought to A&E, requiring four police officers to spend an entire shift watching them, only for them to abscond the next day. There is a pattern here. At almost every step of the way, children needing mental health services face a perfect storm of delay and treatment in inappropriate settings, fuelled by an under-resourced service with over-stretched staff. In light of the Met’s announcement that they will stop attending emergency mental health calls, is it not time for the Government to get their act together, or simply do the right thing and step aside?

One can see the way the Government are responding constructively to these issues by looking at the pilots we have been rolling out in Humberside, where police are released within one hour in 80% of section 136 detentions. We intend to roll out that pilot nationally.

The hon. Lady is right on the first part of her challenge, as demand for mental health services is increasing. In fact, there was a 41% increase in new referrals to mental health services in 2021 compared to the previous year. Where she is wrong is on the resourcing. She missed my previous answer that set out how we are committing an extra £2.3 billion of investment into mental health services, compared to four years ago.