Mental Health

Health written question – answered on 10th January 2008.

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Photo of Anne Milton Anne Milton Shadow Minister (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what assessment he has made of the ability of patients with (a) mental illness and (b) learning difficulties to access (i) NHS emergency treatment and (ii) respite care; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what assessment he has made of the ability of carers of patients with (a) mental illness and (b) learning difficulties to access NHS emergency treatment.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) (Care Services)

In 2003 we published guidance entitled "Improving the Management of Patients with Mental Ill Health in Emergency Care". This provides practical support and guidance for those working in accident and emergency departments, mental health trusts and ambulance trusts to help improve the care of patients with mental illness when they access emergency care. We have not published similar guidance for people with learning disabilities.

The Carers Grant, which we introduced in 1999, provides financial support for carers to have breaks and to provide respite care. The Grant, which is worth £185 million in 2007-08 and £224 million in 2008-09, includes £25 million from which councils can provide emergency cover for carers. We have also issued guidance to councils about using this additional funding. We want to ensure that each council is able to provide short-term cover for carers in emergency situations, and that these monies are available for carers of people with mental illness, learning disabilities and all other conditions.

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Ian Sandeman
Posted on 12 Jan 2008 6:45 am (Report this annotation)

There are about 3 million actual real Carers in the UK (take no notice of the oft quoted 2001 Census figure of 6 million, which is misleading) who actually care for people with severe illnesses in a substantial way for prolonged periods of time on a regular basis. My arithmetic leads me to believe that the c£75 per YEAR per Carer that this equates to is a vastly inadequate amount if it is intended to provide breaks, respite AND emergency cover for Carers.

I would suggest that government needs to think again and maybe get their sums right next time.