HEALTH – ACUTE MENTAL HEALTH BEDS – 9 January 2017

Dr Julian Lewis: The Secretary of State has acknowledged that there is a shortage of acute mental health beds. That arises from the decision by many health trusts to close beds in favour of putting resources into services in the community. One effect is that people approaching a mental health crisis find it harder to know where to turn for help. Will he explain more about the crisis provision in which we are investing the extra £15 million? Is there a common way of knowing how one can easily access those vital services?

[The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): I am happy to supply more details. The £15 million is for places of safety – it is very specifically focused on support for the police service so that we can ensure that we live up to our legal commitment from this year not to send young people into police cells when they actually need mental health support.

More broadly, my right hon. Friend is right that there is a policy change – most people think it is the right thing – to treat more people in the community where we can. What is not working in the way it needs to work is the system that divides people up into four tiers, which means that we sometimes say to people, “We can’t treat you because you are tier 3.” People get sent away, which is not acceptable. That is why we are producing a Green Paper. We want to look at a better way forward.]