HOME AFFAIRS – POLICE, MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE – 15 July 2014
Dr Julian Lewis: Will the hon. Lady [Madeleine Moon] tell the House whether her research has revealed any increase in the problem since some health service foundation trusts, such as the one that serves Hampshire, closed up to 35% of their acute mental health in-patient beds? With the closure of some units – such as the state-of-the-art Woodhaven unit in my constituency – we have also lost the special facilities that were available to the police to house those who were found in mental distress.
[Mrs Moon: I can say that the police increasingly have difficulty finding beds for people who need help and support. Although I cannot comment on the specific situation in Hampshire, the inquiry will reveal whether a suicide prevention action plan is in place and whether there is active engagement with the police in relation to that plan. I hope that that will be of assistance to the hon. Gentleman in assessing his local problems and issues.]
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Dr Lewis: In my intervention, I did not make it clear enough that what happened in Hampshire appears to be happening in other parts of the country as well. We are going through one of those fashionable phases in which there has been a swing away from in-patient acute mental health beds, which is having an effect as the facilities are not available for the people in acute distress whom the police are discovering or with whom they have to deal.
[The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Mike Penning): My hon. Friend raises an important point. That may well be a useful Adjournment debate for us to have, with Mr Speaker’s permission. Even in our front-line acute accident and emergency departments, it is crucial to have staff with the skills to diagnose exactly what is going on.]