Leaving the EU: Health and Social Care — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:49 am on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 9:49 am, 19th March 2019

I am not sure that I agree with the hon. Gentleman. As politicians, we have the principal duty to explore the situation. There will be times when we need expert opinions, but I am complaining about the debate and discussion in this country where people on both sides use the issue as a football and produce exaggerated claims.

I have a great deal of sympathy regarding mental health, an issue on which I have done an enormous amount of campaigning. Outside the EU, there is another organisation with responsibility for mental health, the Council of Europe, on which I serve as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. The Council of Europe has an expert committee on mental health, which is nothing to do with the EU. That means that if we leave the EU, there is a body of evidence and recommendations already in place to take forward mental health issues. That expert committee has produced a reference tool to determine the essential basket of potential rights that an individual should have, to consider whether the human rights of a patient suffering from mental disorders can be maintained with a great deal of dignity. That is an important element that we seem to ignore; we pretend it does not exist, yet many of us spend a huge amount of time at the Council of Europe trying to push forward those sorts of rights, not to take the place of the EU—it works the other way around—but to provide a safety net for people who are suffering from mental disorders.

I want to end on the issue of care. In Henley, the Government have spent about £12 million rebuilding a new hospital that is a model of how to integrate care and medical provision. The hospital was built without any beds; the beds are in the care home at the side of it. That has changed the way that doctors look at the provision of care. They do not immediately think that they should simply send patients to a bed when they can be treated better at home. I have taken various Ministers along to look at that hospital. I do not think it will be affected by Brexit in the slightest. The model set up there is one we can all take as a better way for the system to work in future. I extend an invitation to the Minister to come and see that hospital and how it operates. I hope he will enjoy the experience and see the lack of impact that Brexit will have on the provision of service.