Amendment 5

Part of Health and Care Bill - Committee (Day 1) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 11th January 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Baroness Watkins of Tavistock Deputy Chairman of Committees 6:15 pm, 11th January 2022

My Lords, I support the majority of these amendments. I declare my interests as president of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and chair of the HEE review of mental health nursing.

A lot of noble Lords have spoken about mental health in the most glowing terms in the last hour. I am extremely supportive of the amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins, and our new Member, the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Birmingham. I have put my name to Amendment 138 on keeping proper data and information on waiting lists for people not with mental health issues but mental illness problems. There are people in our country with severe, enduring mental illness who fail to get early diagnosis because they do not even get on to a waiting list to see a consultant.

I see many of these people in my work with the charitable social enterprise I chair, Look Ahead, which provides housing to people who have suffered homelessness, people with mental health problems and learning disabilities and those discharged from prison—having completed their sentence, I should say. So many of those people have had better mental health care in prison than they ever had in society, because we do not list the number of people trying to access these services. We know that the life expectancy of people with long-term mental health problems is so much lower than that of the majority of people with physical health problems, because of things such as drug-induced psychosis, if it is not treated quickly. Professor Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry has been talking about this since I did my PhD there, 30 years ago, and we have still not resolved it.

I emphasise, as an ordinary person who works and has spent nearly 40 years working on a day-to-day basis either training mental health nurses or working with people with severe enduring mental illness, that these amendments are essential if we are to provide good health services for tomorrow’s population.