Mental Health Act

Thank you for contacting me about mental health.

The final report of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act led by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, was published in December last year. The Government is currently considering the report and its recommendations in detail, and will set out a response in a White Paper by the end of the year. I can assure you that the intention remains to reform mental health law and I look forward to legislation bring brought to the House when Parliamentary time allows.

Treating and caring for people in a safe, compassionate environment – for both patients and staff – is a top priority for the Government. The Government is committed to reducing the use of restraint in mental health settings and is fully supporting the Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill which seeks to reduce the use of force and restrictive practices in mental health units.

I agree with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care that while it is hugely welcome that we are on the road to parity of esteem, there is still more to do. I am extremely encouraged by the news that, as part of the five-year NHS funding offer that will see an additional £33.9 billion cash increase by 2023/24 (the largest, longest funding settlement in the history of the NHS), mental health services will receive an additional £2.3 billion, the fastest uplift in funding. This will enable further service expansion and faster access to community and crisis mental health services for both adults and particularly children and young people.

I am pleased that a new mental health crisis service with comprehensive mental health support will be available in every major A&E, alongside new children and young peoples’ crisis teams across the country. The additional funding will also deliver more mental health ambulances, “safe havens” in the community; and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline when people are in urgent need of help.

I hope these new services help end the stigma surrounding mental health, offering crucial support to people suffering from crisis and those who have suffered in silence for too long.

The Government is working to ensure that mental health spending is spread across the whole country. Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are required to achieve the Mental Health Investment Standard, to demonstrate they have increased their mental health spending in line with the growth in their overall budgets. I am happy to note that in 2016/17, 85 per cent of CCGs achieved this standard, and NHS England continues to work with CCGs to improve this figure.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

August 2019