Dr Julian Lewis: Will the Minister give way?
[The Minister of State, Department of Health (Paul Burstow): I will.]
Dr Lewis: I have waited many years to intervene on a Minister in his final sentence, and I have achieved that today. Does the Minister accept, having made a convincing case for people being able to live with their illnesses by being at home, that part of the reassurance that they need to do that is to know that in periods of acute crisis, there will be a bed available for them should it be needed? That should be not only for detained patients but for voluntary patients.
[Mr Burstow: One thing I did not say – I was trying to cut down my remarks – was that there is an essential need to give more people the ability to control their health care through crisis plans. Crisis plans are an opportunity for people to make a statement in advance on how they wish to be treated in the event of a mental health episode that requires an intervention from mental health services. We know that when the plans are in place, they make a huge difference to the need for admission, and that they can reduce the length of stay. We need to ensure that there is a sufficiency of beds so that people can get appropriate treatment, but we also need to ensure that there is much more focus on good, community-based intervention at an early stage. Getting that balance right is always difficult for health commissioners to achieve – I know my hon. Friend is struggling with that in his patch at the moment. Those are the challenges the NHS faces. They are challenges not just for our health commissioners and providers but, as this debate has clearly demonstrated, for our whole society. We can transform mental health in this country only if we transform our attitudes. This debate plays an important part in that.]
[NOTE: For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]