Mental Health Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:54 pm on 7th February 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 5:54 pm, 7th February 2006

Mental health will certainly be one of the big issues of the 21st century. Placing greater emphasis on mental health is one way in which the Government can improve the well-being of individuals, but I have to say that the complete opposite is happening in my constituency. I hope that the House will forgive me if I confine my remarks to what is happening in Cambridge, because it is such an extreme example.

Despite what the Minister says, mental health services in Cambridge and south Cambridgeshire are in crisis. The overall budget has been cut by £2.75 million, which is 13 per cent. of the total. Two rehabilitation wards are being closed; an acute in-patient ward is being closed; three adult day care centres are being reduced to two; a ward for older acute patients is being closed; and arts therapies, physiotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy between them have to save £150,000. Other services are still under threat, including the young people's service, which Mr. Lansley mentioned. We still hope to save that service; the decision has been deferred and we are trying to persuade the primary care trust and the mental health trust that it would be more expensive in the long term to make cuts now, because of the excellent preventive work that it does.

The PCT, echoing the Minister, claims that closure of acute wards will be offset by the reorganisation of community services and investment in assertive outreach work. The trouble is that the PCT is requiring £2 million of cuts not next year but in the current financial year. There is no lead-in time to get the community and crisis resolution teams fully in place. I fully accept that crisis resolution and community outreach are a good way to run mental health services, and preventing in-patient admission has to be a good idea. However, if there were no financial pressure, the change would have been brought in over a much longer period.