Week in Westminster 7th Feb 2020.

Your weekly round-up from the Campaigns & Public Affairs team.

Rethink Mental Illness in Parliament 

  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health held its first event of the year, with Sathnam Sanghera sharing his family experience of schizophrenia and calling for reform of the Mental Health Act
  • We were mentioned by the Minister for Health Edward Argar MP in the NHS Funding Bill debate for our work in ensuring mental health is prominent in parliamentary debates and the public’s mind

NHS Funding Bill

The NHS Funding Bill finished its initial Commons’ stages this week. We worked with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Mind to encourage MPs to support amendments to the NHS Funding Bill to legally require the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to report on the amount of money going into mental health every year.

Anne Marie Morris and Preet Gill were among MPs who put down an amendment to try and ensure that the money that has been promised for mental health reaches those services. There was good debate in support of the general principle behind these amendments.

Unfortunately while the amendments did not pass, in summing up the debate, Minister Edward Argar MP said that the Government was ‘deeply sympathetic to the spirit behind the amendments on mental health’. He welcomed the ‘fantastic work’ done by Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, RCPsych and others “in making mental health such a feature in our debates and in the public consciousness”.

He said that the Government was “…ensuring, through the NHS long-term plan, that spending on mental health services will increase by an additional £2.3 billion by 2023-24”. Argar also re-confirmed that spending on mental health services would increase faster than the overall NHS budget as a proportion, and that spending on CAMHS would increase at an even faster rate. He stated that he would be happy to look at non-legislative ways to improve how data is collected on mental health spending.

This is a positive outcome and thank you to everyone who emailed their MP asking them to support the amendment. The Bill has already gone to the Lords where it had its First Reading on Wednesday. It will have its next Lords stages on 26th February 2020.

APPG on Mental Health AGM

On Wednesday the All-Party Parliamentary Group had its first event of the year and AGM. Labour MP Jeff Smith was elected as Chair of the APPG, with lots of new MPs joining the group as a Vice Chair or an Officer.

Sathnam Sanghera, Times journalist and author of books including The Boy With The Topknot, spoke about his family experience of schizophrenia and having family members detained under the Mental Health Act. He called for reform of the Act and for more investment in community mental health teams. The event was very well attended with lots of people taking part in thoughtful discussion about severe mental illness. Read more about the event here.

In Parliament next week…

Monday 10th February

  • House of Lords: Short debate, Mandating training on learning disability and autism for all health and social care staff in England - Baroness Hollins

Wednesday 12th February

  • House of Commons: Prime Minister’s Questions
  • House of Lords: Oral questions, Reducing the disability gap - Lord Touhig

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