Mental Health Services: Leeds

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

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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When we try to deliver a transformational step change in the level of service, one of the problems is that we end up raising expectations quicker than we can deliver on them, because we need a whole workforce that is able to deliver. I note my hon. Friend’s points about the number of people applying for psychiatric posts; we need to do much more to encourage people. We have spent a lot of time raising awareness of mental health and put a huge amount of investment into psychological therapies. However, at the heart of the forward plan for the next 10 years is a recognition that we need much more service available in the community, and much more help for people with severe mental ill health. I hope that my hon. Friend is reassured by that.

As I have limited time, I will follow up in writing on the other points made by the hon. Member for Leeds North East. As I said, we have made money available in Leeds, but when we look through the prism of someone who needs help and whose journey in getting that care is less than optimal, we clearly need to consider what is going wrong with that care pathway. If someone is vulnerable and needs help, and perhaps does not have a good understanding of mental health or has no experience of it, the whole process is very confusing and distressing.

How we navigate people through the NHS can often feel very inhuman—it is very reliant on process. The hon. Gentleman gave an example of how people are sent online to register, which feels a bit uncomfortable. We need to make sure that we take every opportunity to ensure that the patient is at the heart of this process and that their experience is pleasant, at a time when they are going through great distress. To say, “Here you are: go to this website—you’re on your own, so see you later,” is not a good start for anyone looking for help.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Leeds North East for having brought this case to my attention, and I pay tribute to Mr and Mrs Downey for sharing their story, because doing so is incredibly difficult. I will look at the specific points that the hon. Gentleman has raised and come back to him.

Question put and agreed to.