I beg to move,
That this House
notes that one in four people will suffer mental health problems;
is aware that mental health trusts are facing some of the largest cuts in planned budgets whilst already having to cope with worryingly high recruitment shortages;
further notes that patients with mental illness are often denied real choice in their treatments due to long waiting times for referrals and an acute shortage of non-drug therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy;
is alarmed at the particular problems experienced by black and minority ethnic patients in accessing services;
is concerned at the continued absence of a Mental Health Bill almost four years after the first draft Bill was published;
and calls on the Government to raise the relative importance of mental health within the NHS, making early intervention a priority in order to enable access to a range of appropriate services and urgently to publish a revised Mental Health Bill which recognises the rights and dignity of people with mental illness.
May I say at the outset that I am sorry to hear that the Secretary of State is indisposed? We send her our best wishes. We are sure that it will be only a temporary indisposition and that she will be back performing her duties very soon. However, we are happy that the Minister of State, Ms Winterton, is here to speak for the Government on this subject, for which she is directly responsible in the Department.
The purpose of this debate is threefold. First, given that there has been no debate in Government time on the Floor of the House on mental health services since 1997, this debate will permit hon. Members not only to assess the future of those services, but to express their appreciation of the staff who work in them and their understanding of the needs of patients with mental health problems. Secondly, we want to express what I hope will be the view of the whole House, namely, that mental health services must not be the Cinderella services of the NHS that many people have often perceived them to be. The services deserve, and must have, priority, and that priority must be reflected in the delivery of the services. Furthermore, that delivery must not be compromised—and patients must not suffer—as a result of present or prospective NHS deficits. Thirdly, we want a reformed Mental Health Bill that people across the range of mental health interests can support to be brought before the House. Such a Bill was promised in the Gracious Speech, but there have been long delays. We want it to contain provisions that will provide dignity and a positive framework for those whom it is intended to serve.