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Ipswich: Are mental health services `a car crash’

PUBLISHED: 13:44 11 July 2014

Carole Watts of Ashton KCJ

Carole Watts of Ashton KCJ

Archant

Legally Speaking with Ashton KCJ

The outgoing president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Sue Bailey believes that the mental health services in England are in crisis and described them as a “car crash.”

This has been rejected by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt who has introduced a new law to ensure that mental health and physical health are to be treated on the same basis.

Whilst this principle is to be applauded it does need to be seen to be working in practice as the consequences of failing to provide adequate psychiatric services are serious and far reaching. We hear all too often of tragic cases where the services have failed.

Only this week the inquest has opened into the tragic death of schoolgirl Helena Farrell who died on 4 January 2013 with claims from her father that support services were in “disarray”. Helena’s parents had asked for urgent help as they were concerned about her suicidal thoughts and bulimia.

Although an urgent referral was made to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) she was not offered an assessment until one month later. The assessment took place just 24 hours before her death.

The inquest is expected to last three days.

Cuts in funding to the mental health services and increased demand are putting patients with mental health issues at greater risk. Therefore it is important sufficient funding is in place to ensure that there are adequate resources, properly trained staff and appropriate procedures in place to safeguard those at risk of harm or suicide.

However, provision of psychiatric services should not only be available for the most serious cases but also for patients with mild or moderate mental health issues.

The funding needs to be in place to ensure that such individuals can readily access mental health services and be assessed at the earliest opportunity so that they are given the best opportunity to improve the quality of their lives and to return those unable to work to gainful employment.

If mental health issues are not treated this will have a detrimental effect not only on the individual but also on their families. Therefore adequate mental health services are not only essential but are invaluable to all concerned.

Carole Watts

Solicitor

Ashton KCJ Solicitors

T: 01223 431124

E: carole.watts@ashtonkcj.co.uk

www.ashtonkcj.co.uk

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.

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