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

That highlights the importance of having a nominated person earlier in the journey. I do not disagree with my right hon. Friend, but he highlights the difficulty of our work to get the balance right between keeping someone safe and respecting their wishes. I fully anticipate that when we produce the White Paper on this issue, he and I will probably have another debate about it. It is important that we get it right, with the safety of the patient in mind while empowering them to make their own decisions.

I have already mentioned that we will end police stations being places of safety under the Act, and that will be included in any legislation. On equalities, we are working with the NHS to introduce the first ever race equality framework to ensure that mental health care providers work with local communities to improve the ways that patients access and experience treatment. An important point is that although we are concerned that under the Act there are far too many detentions of people from black and minority ethnic communities, it is possible that is partly because they find it difficult to access services. We need to address that properly.

To help to address that, we are also launching a pilot programme of culturally appropriate advocacy. Clearly, we will need to make that resource available to ensure that people have access to it. The review said that we need to learn a lot more about that whole issue, so we will work with the National Institute for Health Research, which will launch a call for research later in the year to give us more answers. Jacqui Dyer MBE is our Mental Health Equalities Champion, and she will play a leading role in taking forward the review’s recommendations on tackling the injustices faced by black and minority ethnic services users.

I have spoken for quite some time; I hope I have covered most of the aspects mentioned. On the issue of funding, I have probably bored everyone senseless by saying that we are determined to deliver a much-expanded service, and our focus must be on developing those community services. We have made resources available to do exactly that through the long-term plan, but that is not to say that the issue is not still challenging. However, I hope we will be able to do much more in the community for people with severe mental illness, so that we can treat them in the community rather than have them go into crisis care.

To illustrate that with an example, if we can get people out of beds and into the community, the ability to look after more patients is really stark, so it starts to pay for itself. I discussed that with a clinical director from the NHS, who said that if they remove three people from in-patient beds and have them in the community, the productivity is so much greater straightaway. We rely on good local leadership to crack that and make it happen.

I have covered most of the things I wanted to. I will just reiterate my thanks to all Members who have participated in a very good debate, and I look forward to having discussions on the White Paper as it develops.