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.
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.