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Funding Settlement for the health service in England

Part of NHS Funding Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 4th February 2020.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot 3:45 pm, 4th February 2020

The hon. Lady makes a very good point—I think there are probably two points there. The first is what we should be measuring and when, and the second is about data and the privacy issue. The points are related, but separate. The first one, which is about measurement, is a point very well made. Certainly, the point at which my constituents are counted as being in the box and in need and being referred for mental health can be very far down the line from their first presentation. The figures will often not properly represent the number of people who are actually in need, so I think she is right that we need to be clear at what point we measure an individual coming into the system. I am not clear from what I have heard anecdotally that it is. Some clarity and perhaps an investigation into that would be very helpful. The hon. Lady’s point about privacy is a much broader issue, and I think it would be beyond the scope of this debate to look at it now. The point was well made, but it is a much bigger point for another day.

Through new clause 9, I am asking for an annual report that would show how mental health provision has improved. Such a report would state how we identified what we included in the mental health bucket that I mentioned; how we identified who is in need; how we measured whether that individual received an intervention, and whether any such intervention was timely; whether the individual’s condition has improved or got better; and how any improvement has been assessed, because that can be a very difficult question. I appreciate that for many individuals with mental health concerns, these are lifelong conditions. We would therefore not simply be measuring whether somebody is “cured”, but looking at the level of improvement and the extent to which the intervention has helped—or not helped—that particular individual. It is very complicated.

My new clause would require the Government to look specifically at how we are going to measure the extent to which we have been able to prevent mental health problems. Specifically, we need to start looking at the support we give in schools, to pregnant mothers and in many other situations. This provision would also require information on how we have diagnosed mental health problems. Too often in constituents’ cases, I find that it is only when a diagnosis is finally and formally made that there is any intervention or help. I have heard from a number of parents of young children and teenagers who have faced problems such as eating disorders and attempted suicide, but much to my concern and that of the parents, as no diagnosis has yet been made—because they cannot get an appointment and so on—the individual youngster who is self-harming is not yet considered to have a mental health problem. The consequence is that they do not get the support and assistance they need, so diagnosis is very important.