HEALTH – SOUTHERN HEALTH FOUNDATION TRUST – 3 May 2016

Dr Julian Lewis: In 2011 and 2012, I was locked in a bitter confrontation with Southern Health Foundation Trust over the determination of its top management to close no fewer than 58 out of its 165 acute in-patient beds for people suffering from mental health illnesses and breakdowns. It is the only constituency issue over which I have ever suffered sleepless nights, and I failed to stop the trust closing the Winsor Ward in the relatively new Woodhaven Hospital in my constituency. Today, apart from this terrible issue about the deaths, the system remains overfull, the beds remain too few and I understand that at least 80% of the in-patients are people who have been sectioned, leaving people a very low chance of getting an elective bed from Southern Health unless they are prepared to wait a long time. Can the CQC look into this wider issue, given that it has so many other serious concerns about the trust?

[The Minister for Community and Social Care (Alistair Burt): The CQC’s powers are extensive and I know that it will absolutely know what my hon. Friend says. The debate comparing the provision of beds for treatment with community treatment has been going on for some time in mental health, and different pathways are taken by different trusts. Some trusts put more people into beds, while others are doing more in the community. The general sense is that more should be available in the community, but that must not preclude the availability of emergency beds when they are needed. I will ensure that the CQC is aware of my hon. Friend’s concerns about that particular trust.]