Mental Health Services: Leeds

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:20 pm on 23rd April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 6:20 pm, 23rd April 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie. I thank Fabian Hamilton for the passionate and articulate speech he has made on behalf of his constituents.

I often get frustrated by debates about the NHS, which are all about inputs—how much money is being spent, or what the size of the workforce is—and not enough about the direct patient experience and whether what we have is delivering the right outcomes. The story that the hon. Gentleman has shared illustrates that, for a lot of people experiencing mental ill health, their journey towards getting care is not always optimal. That is for a whole host of reasons, including historical issues regarding process and how people interact with their services. I will go away and take a deeper look at what he has highlighted, because it is a very good example of how things can go wrong.

As I say, the issue is not just about money, because we have made money available to all clinical commissioning groups. The hon. Gentleman has asked why, when we are making money available at an increased rate across the board, mental health services are so much worse in Leeds than elsewhere. As is so often the case with these things, a lot of it is about leadership. One issue that has been specifically raised with me is that often, the person responsible for commissioning mental health services within a CCG is not as senior as others. They are not as experienced, and that can cause weaknesses in commissioning.

It is important that we take action centrally to make sure that we deliver services more consistently, and I expect that to be achieved through the Care Quality Commission. Rachael Maskell raised specific concerns about her local trust. The CQC’s inspection report last year said that the trust requires improvement, so I fully expect it to work collaboratively with the CQC to take the steps that it is advised to take, in order to improve its performance when providing care. That CQC scrutiny will continue until the relevant improvement in performance is delivered.

NHS England also demands that CCGs achieve the mental health investment standard. Under that criterion, CCGs are bound to spend more of the additional money they receive on mental health services than their overall increase in budget. We expect NHS England to take direct action to secure that. However, that is not the whole story, because it depends on what CCGs are commissioning.

One of the messages that I have been keen to give CCGs is that delivering good outcomes for people suffering from mental ill health is not just about clinical services; the voluntary sector can play a big role. I have challenged CCGs to use some of their budgets to commission services directly from the voluntary sector. When someone is suffering a mental health crisis, they need help to navigate the system. In the example that the hon. Member for Leeds North East shared, that help was clearly not forthcoming from the GP.

Having someone with an understanding of mental health who can help a person suffering a crisis navigate through the system is clearly beneficial and, frankly, is good value for money. We should not spend all our NHS budgets on clinical staff when that additional support can deliver so much. In the case that the hon. Gentleman outlined, the GP did not do as much as he could have done, so we perhaps need to consider what else we can do to make sure that GPs understand that system. Again, the voluntary sector has a role to play.

My hon. Friend Andrea Jenkyns mentioned having more mental health education in schools, which is an issue that we are taking forward. She specifically mentioned Place2Be, which is a good example of how a third-sector organisation can work with the NHS to deliver the right outcomes. We are in the process of rolling out a whole new workforce in our schools to do exactly as my hon. Friend has challenged us to do.

On people who have attempted suicide, I readily concede that patients in such circumstances have not had a joined-up service between their GPs and their primary care providers. However, through the liaison psychiatry teams that we are rolling out in A&E, we intend to make sure that that wrap-around care is provided more readily.