Mental Health Act Reform

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:33 pm on 13th January 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 2:33 pm, 13th January 2021

I put on record my gratitude to my right hon. Friend. Without her, I am not sure we would have reached this point. Her dedication to this topic, both as Home Secretary and then as Prime Minister and since, has been vital, and I am grateful for the advice that she has given me in the last few months as we prepared this White Paper. I am grateful to her for appointing Sir Simon Wessely, and I am grateful to her for appointing me as Health Secretary, too. [Laughter.]

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right about the urgent pressures right now in mental health services right across the country, so I am really pleased that during the pandemic we have been able to keep work going on the policy and the new legislation that we are proposing. At the same time, however, in hospitals and in GP surgeries right across this country, there is urgent pressure on mental health services, and we know that there are mental health impacts of the actions that we have to take to control covid.

As I said in my statement, we have put in more money in the short term, on top of the long-term plan that was agreed when my right hon. Friend was Prime Minister. We are committed to doing everything we can to support people with mental ill health and, crucially, to support people to keep their mental health strong, even if they do not have a mental illness, because these are difficult times. The good public health approach means that, just as looking out for our physical health and our mental health is important for all of us, so too is the provision of acute services for people with serious mental health conditions, which is under strain right now. We are willing to—and have—put the money in at the spending review, but we must also support the clinicians on the frontline who are working so hard right now.