HEALTH – ELLINGHAM WARD – 12 January 2010

Dr Julian Lewis: What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Psychiatric Intensive Care Units in the provision of mental health care.

I note that the Minister of State is to answer this question, which will give the Secretary of State [Andy Burnham] a chance to calm down.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): Acute care services, including Psychiatric Intensive Care Units, remain an essential component of the Government's drive to improve and modernise our mental health services. Moreover, as a result of nine consecutive years of increased mental health spending, more people with acute mental health problems are being treated in the community than ever before.

Dr Lewis: I give the Government full credit for the creation of the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Woodhaven Hospital in my constituency. That is why I am so concerned about the fact that it has been ‘temporarily' closed for the last three months. Six patients from the New Forest who are in desperate need of its assistance have been farmed out to Havant and Basingstoke. May I appeal once more to the Minister to intervene to ensure that Ellingham Ward at Woodhaven is reopened as soon as possible?

Phil Hope: The hon. Gentleman has raised this matter with me before, both at Question Time and during debates in Westminster Hall. Since our debate last October, Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Hampshire Primary Care Trust have established an independent review panel to examine their proposals to change services provided by the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. An updated report will be sent to the Hampshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26 January, and the full report will be completed within a month. The independent review will be conducted by a panel of experts, including an independent consultant psychiatrist and an independent director of nursing.

I hope that that reassures the hon. Gentleman that his concerns are being heard, that action is being taken and that an independent review will ensure that we secure the best possible outcome for patients, based on a clinical assessment of their needs.