Mental Health Act 1983 — [Ms Karen Buck in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:20 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:20 pm, 25th July 2019

I partly agree with the hon. Lady. The answer is better help within the community, but I come back to the point that Mr Jones made so well. It should not be about beds or in-patient care. The fact that we still have that, and that it is increasing, is a mark of failure. I do not think it should be addressed by reinvestment in in-patient care in the community. The key is putting the support in earlier, and that is what we must aim toward.

The hon. Lady mentions that many of the providers are private, and she is right. One of the challenges I am setting NHS providers is how we can be more innovative, co-commissioning with local authorities to ensure that we have more supported accommodation available in the community, recognising that there will be a saving across the system. I am very clear; I will take it on the chin that local authorities have had more financial challenges than the NHS has as we have tackled public spending, but ultimately, we must think about that person and ensuring that they have holistic care. Silo-based decision making is not doing the people who need our help any good. That is still a work in progress.

Alex Cunningham is right about the role of social workers here. I have regularly debated with hon. Members about the workforce challenges that we face in delivering improved mental health services. NHS England is very clear that that will be developed only through new multidisciplinary models of care, in which social workers will play a part. We can also make much better use of people with lived experience in delivering care for people with mental ill health, not least because engaging with mental health professionals can be very intimidating and threatening, particularly for somebody going through a crisis, and someone with lived experience can bring a very different perspective to that relationship. Much more can be done about that. That underlines the point that hon. Members made a number of times about the need for appropriate support services.