Norman Lamb welcomes Mental Health Five Year Forward View

Norman Lamb MP has welcomed the launch of a landmark report setting out a five-year strategy for transforming mental health care in England.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. However, this area has historically been neglected in the NHS, and people with mental illness often do not enjoy the same access to effective treatment as those with physical conditions.

The Mental Health Taskforce, chaired by Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind), was set up to bring an end to this discrimination, and its report makes a wide range of recommendations on how to provide better support for people suffering from mental ill health.

The key recommendations are:

  • 24 hour access to mental health crisis care, 7 days a week. This includes better funding for Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams, which offer intensive home treatment for people in a mental health crisis as an alternative to hospital admission.
  • Comprehensive access and waiting time standards in mental health, giving people the right to treatment on a timely basis.
  • Access to psychological therapies expanded to help over 600,000 more people.
  • Better support for the physical health of people with severe mental health problems.
  • More personalised and effective support to help twice as many people with mental illness to find / stay in work
  • The practice of sending acutely ill patients long-distances for treatment should be eliminated as quickly as possible.
  • Urgent action to help people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities to access good quality mental health care

Many of these recommendations build on the crucial work done by Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats in government and in opposition.

  • The Liberal Democrats introduced the first ever maximum waiting times in mental health, for common mental health conditions (e.g. depression and anxiety) and psychosis. This was announced as part of a vision for comprehensive waiting time standards, to give more people with mental illness the right to access treatment on a timely basis.
  • The ‘Future in Mind’ report was a blueprint for modernising children and young people’s mental health, backed by £1.25bn in funding secured by Nick Clegg. The Taskforce endorses the recommendations of the report, and calls for the funding to be invested in full over the next five years to help more than 70,000 children and young people.  
  • The Crisis Care Concordat was a historic agreement setting out how organisations can work together more effectively to provide better support for people experiencing a mental health crisis. The Taskforce recommends building on this work to improve access to crisis care.
  • Norman Lamb has repeatedly called for an end to out of area mental health placements, and urged the Government to commit to eliminating the practice in a House of Commons debate last December. Nobody suffering from mental illness should be shunted across the country to receive the care they need.

The Mental Health Taskforce identified the need to invest an additional £1 billion a year by 2020, in order to deliver these rapid improvements in mental health services and help over 1 million more people with mental health problems to access high quality care.

The NHS has pledged to provide the extra £1bn – but rather than investing new money into mental health, the Government is instead redirecting funds from other parts of the NHS which are already overstretched.

Commenting on the report, Norman Lamb said:

“This report sets an excellent ambition to revolutionise our mental health services and bring an end to the discrimination suffered by those with mental ill health at the heart of the NHS.

“Critically, it endorses the plan to introduce comprehensive maximum waiting time standards in mental health. Mental health was left out of maximum waiting time standards when they were introduced by Labour over a decade ago. This drives where the money goes in the NHS and outrageously disadvantages those with mental ill health. The Liberal Democrats introduced the first ever waiting time standards in mental health – but until there are comprehensive rights to get treatment on time, discrimination against those with mental illness will continue.”

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Norman Lamb calls for investment in young people's mental health after A&E admissions double

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk and the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health, has called for the Government to stick to its commitment of extra investment in children and young people’s mental health services after it was revealed that the number of young people admitted to A&E as a result of a psychiatric condition more than doubled over the last five years.

In response to a parliamentary question tabled by Norman, the Government confirmed that a total of 14,917 people aged 18 and under who were admitted to A&E with a recorded first diagnosis of a psychiatric condition in 2014/15, compared to only 6,950 in 2010/11 – an increase of 115% over the period. Meanwhile, the number of young people admitted for intentional self-harm also increased from 13,504 to more than 17,000.

During the Coalition Government, the Liberal Democrats secured £1.25bn of new funding to transform children and young people’s mental health services. This amounts to around £250 million in every year of the current parliament – but the Government has allocated only £143 million in this financial year (2015/16). 

Norman is currently leading a commission, set up by the think tank CentreForum, looking at how to improve the mental health services available to children and young people.

“These are deeply shocking figures which expose the true scale of the mental health challenge facing young people in this country,” said Norman Lamb.

“The Government is failing to support children and young people by not delivering the investment that was agreed before the General Election. In March 2015, Nick Clegg and I announced £1.25 billion to be spent over five years on improving young people’s mental health services, but the Government has already underspent by £107 million in the first year. 

“This is unacceptable, and these latest figures show the need for urgent investment in preventative services and community care to stop young people from reaching crisis point. It also shows the absolute need to introduce the same right to get treatment on a timely basis for children and young people suffering mental ill health as others enjoy.  I am calling on the Government to make up the shortfall immediately, and to deliver on its promise to provide the full £1.25bn over the next five years.”


Norman's parliamentary question and the Government's response is copied in full below.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many people aged 18 and under were admitted to A&E for (a) deliberate self-harm and (b) psychiatric conditions in England in each of the last five years.

Alistair Burt (Minister for Communities and Social Care): While data on the number of people attending accident and emergency (A&E) departments is not collected centrally, the table does provide a number of A&E attendances for patients aged under 18 with a recorded first diagnosis of psychiatric conditions, those where the recorded patient group is 'intentional self-harm' and those where both criteria appear from 2010-11 to 2014-15.








Diagnosis - Psychiatric Conditions






Patient Group - Intentional Self Harm






Attendances where both the above codes were recorded






Expert commission backs Norman Lamb's call to abolish out of area mental health placements

Norman Lamb’s call to end the scandal of mental health patients being shunted across the country has received the backing of a landmark report on acute psychiatric care.

The Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care, led by Lord Crisp, was set up by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in response to concerns about the provision of services for people with severe mental illness.  Its report found that there are “major problems both in admissions to psychiatric wards and in providing alternative care and treatment in the community”.

One of the Commission’s key recommendations is that the practice of sending acutely ill patients long distances for non-specialist mental health treatment is phased out by October 2017, following months of campaigning by the Liberal Democrats.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, led a House of Commons debate in November to highlight the scandal of out-of-area placements, and challenged the Government to commit to ending the practice completely within 12 months. The Government pledged at the time to make a recommendation based on the findings of Lord Crisp’s Commission, which reported today.

Official figures suggest that each month around 500 mental ill patients have to travel over 50km away from their home to a hospital bed. The report concluded that these long distances “are mainly due to difficulties in finding acute inpatient beds or suitable alternative services in their home area, and are a symptom of far more widespread problems in the functioning of the whole mental health system.”

Commenting on the new report, Norman Lamb said: “I am delighted with the recommendation of ending the scandal of out of area placements. The Government has already committed to taking a view based on the findings of this Commission, and I now urge the minister to commit to ending this outrageous practice.

“Being sent out-of-area during a mental health crisis – sometimes hundreds of miles away from family and friends – can cause unimaginable distress. We also know that being treated out-of-area raises the risk of suicide after being discharged from hospital. There is simply no excuse for allowing this to continue.

“This practice would never be tolerated in physical health services. It is an example of the total discrimination at the heart of our NHS, and one of the many examples of how people who suffer from acute mental ill health are disadvantaged by the system.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • A new waiting time pledge is included in the NHS Constitution from October 2017 of a maximum four-hour wait for admission to an acute psychiatric ward or acceptance for home-based treatment, in line with existing targets in physical health;
  • Commissioners and providers should undertake a service capacity assessment and improvement programme to ensure that they have an appropriate number of beds and Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment teams;
  • Better access to accommodation for those suffering mental illness;
  • Pilots to improve the experience of care for people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities
  • The collection, quality and use of data is radically improved to improve service quality, evidence-based care, and accountability.  

The full report can be accessed here

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No messing? No action!

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling on the District Council to get serious about keeping North Norfolk clean and tidy.

The Conservative-run Council is threatening to remove bins from a number of Broads villages which could result in rubbish piling up. District Councillor Barbara McGoun says:

“It's a penny pinching measure which threatens to leave boating visitors with nowhere to dispose of their rubbish in villages that are popular tourist destinations.  North Norfolk residents will suffer more mess and local businesses will suffer if tourists are deterred from visiting.”


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Fair shares for North Norfolk

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Yesterday, Mr Lamb co-sponsored a debate in Parliament that called for Council Tax payers in rural areas to be protected from the impact of cuts in government funding for local councils.

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Health groups back Norman Lamb's NHS and Care Commission

Norman Lamb’s call for an independent cross-party commission to examine the future of the NHS and social care system has received overwhelming support from charities and professional organisations across the healthcare sector.

The scale of the financial challenge facing the NHS and social care services is now so severe that all parties must work together to design a new long-term settlement for the system. This is why Norman Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk and Liberal Democrat spokesman for Health, presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament last week to establish a commission which would engage with the public, NHS and care workforce, experts and civic society. The commission, which would be time-limited and non-party political, would look at important questions such as how health and care services should be organised and funded.

An array of charities and professional organisations in the health sector have now spoken out in support of Norman’s campaign - including Care England, NHS Confederation, The Royal College of Surgeons, 2020 Health and NHS Survival. The chief executives of 40 organisations including Macmillan, British Red Cross, Mencap, Alzheimer's Society, Marie Curie, Independent Age and the MS Society have also written an open letter to the Prime Minister expressing their support. 

Norman is continuing to encourage support for a new Beveridge Commission by writing to all the Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association. If you would like to help Norman Lamb’s campaign you can add your support by signing the petition here.

Full list of organisations supporting the campaign:

  • 2020 Health
  • Action on Hearing Loss
  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Anchor
  • Arthritis Research UK
  • Association for Real Change (England) 
  • British Red Cross
  • Campaign to End Loneliness
  • Care & Repair England
  • Care and Support, Home Group
  • Care England
  • Care for Older People
  • Carers Trust
  • Carers UK
  • Centre for Policy on Ageing
  • The Disabilities Trust
  • Guideposts
  • Independent Age
  • International Longevity Centre - UK 
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Marie Curie
  • Mencap
  • Mental Health Foundation 
  • MS Society
  • Muscular Dystrophy UK 
  • My Home Life programme
  • National AIDS Trust
  • National Care Forum
  • National Council for Palliative Care
  • National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
  • NHS Confederation
  • NHS Survival
  • Real Life Options 
  • Royal College of Surgeons
  • SeeAbility
  • Sense
  • Shared Lives Plus
  • Spinal Injuries Association
  • Stroke Association
  • Sue Ryder 
  • UK Homecare Association
  • United Response
  • VoiceAbility

Norman Lamb calls for cross-party commission on NHS and social care

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk and the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Health, today put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament calling for the creation of an independent, non-partisan commission to examine the future of the NHS and social care services. 

The system is facing a severe crisis as a result of growing financial and demographic pressures. The purpose of the commission would be to engage with the public and the NHS and care workforce, with the objective of establishing a long-term new settlement for the NHS and care. 

Norman is seeking support from all parties who want to ensure that healthcare services are protected for future generations, and has received the backing of Conservative and Labour former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn, as well as many other healthcare organisations. 

The full text of his speech is as follows:

Mr Speaker, I beg to move that leave be given for me to bring in a Bill to establish an independent commission to examine the future of the National Health Service and the social care system; to take evidence; to report its conclusions to Parliament; and for connected purposes.

Mr Speaker, two former Secretaries of State for Health and honourable members from both Government and opposition benches have joined with me to call for the Government to establish such a commission.

We are also joined by an organisation called NHS Survival, a group of progressive junior doctors, patients and others - now numbering 8000 members and by Care England, representing social care providers.

The purpose of the Commission would be to engage with the public, staff in the NHS and care services and civic society on the massive challenge the NHS and care services face with the objective of establishing a long term new settlement for the NHS and care. 

So why is this needed?

The NHS and social care face an existential crisis. In the post war period, demand has gone up by about 4% every year. We all understand the reasons for this. We are all living longer. The numbers of people surviving cancer, for example, has increased dramatically. Half of people diagnosed with cancer now survive their disease for ten years or more according to Cancer Research UK compared to only a quarter 40 years ago. The number of people living with 3 or more chronic conditions is set to rise by over 50% in the ten year period up to 2019. New medicines are invented that tackle the underlying cause of some genetic diseases for the first time and we see remarkable advances in surgical procedures.

All of this is a triumph of modern medicine - something we should celebrate.

For the last five years, the Coalition Government ensured that spending on the NHS was protected but real terms increases have been marginal. With demand continuing to rise, this has been the toughest financial settlement in the history of the NHS. Meanwhile social care has been cut in real terms despite significant increases in demand.

As we look to the period up to 2020, the widely accepted assessment is that there will be a gap of £30bn in the NHS by 2020. The Government has committed to finding £10bn (including the increase in this financial year).

Few experts in the NHS believe that will be enough. The Health Foundation has estimated a gap of £2bn in 2020 on top of the £10bn commitment. Many others believe it will be larger than this.

A reflection of the rapidly deteriorating financial position is shown in the accounts of NHS and Foundation Trusts.  They are facing a projected £2.2bn deficit by the end of this financial year.

Pension changes announced by the Chancellor are likely to add another £1bn to costs.

Pressures across the system are very evident. The news today that at least 100 GP surgeries applied to stop accepting patients because of a shortage of doctors is the latest example.

The position in social care is perhaps more serious. The respected Health Foundation has estimated that there will be a £6bn funding gap by 2020 - without taking into account the increase in the minimum wage. The LGA estimate that this will add £1bn by 2020. It also does not take into account the planned cap on care costs (which the government insists it will introduce in 2020).

The Spending Review provision for councils to increase council tax by 2% will narrow this gap by an estimated £1.7bn by 2020 according to the LGA - provided every council takes advantage of the new power. The plan for an increase in the Better Care Fund will add £1.5bn but only in 2019/20. So a substantial shortfall remains. This means that further cuts to social care are inevitable.

Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, has made clear that if you cut social care, it will have an impact on the NHS  - and that this, in effect, creates a larger funding gap in the NHS by 2020 than the projected £30bn.

So the situation based on planned spending over this Parliament looks unsustainable. And beyond 2020, it just keeps on getting more challenging. 

It's worth looking at how we compare with other European countries.

Back in 2000, the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, set the objective of the UK hitting average EU spending on health by 2006. We now risk drifting further away from the EU average. 

An analysis shows that of the 21 OECD countries in the EU in 2013 only Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia spent a lower proportion of GDP on health than the UK. 

Looking ahead, the picture is just as disturbing. 

Projected health spending in England as a proportion of UK GDP up to 2020/21 shows a declining share of GDP spent on the NHS. According to the Office of Budget responsibility, based on the Government's Spending Review, funding for the Department of Health declines as a percentage of GDP from 6.1% in 2015/16 to just 5.4% by 2020/21. The position for social care is more dramatic.

Given what we know about the inexorable rise in demand, can it make any sense at all to commit a reducing share of GDP to health and care.

I fear that the consequences of failing to address this funding situation could be very serious. The Government argues that substantial further efficiency savings can still be achieved. Yet, however much we hope that the necessary 'efficiency savings' will be achieved through smart re-engineering of the system to deliver more value and better care, the reality is that around the country anecdotal evidence suggests that too often preventive services are cut as Clinical Commissioning Groups indulge in crisis management. The financial incentives in the system don't help. We have payment for activity for acute hospital care but block contracts for community care and mental health. This ensures that rational allocation of resources is distorted. Acute hospitals continue to see increases in income - but demand for their services also increases, in part, because of a failure to invest in preventive care - so their financial position becomes more perilous despite that increase in income. It's a vicious circle which has to be broken.

In social care, the anticipated shortfall - with rising demand - up to 2020, will result in more people losing support - or support packages becoming more inadequate. We are currently witnessing reductions in care packages in my own county of Norfolk. There are also serious concerns of significant numbers of providers of social care leaving the market. There is a sense of the system living on borrowed time.

The unattractive effect of this will be that those with money will be able to get good care. Those relying on the state will increasingly either get nothing at all or substandard care.

None of this also addresses the fact that mental health desperately needs more investment.

So the Government faces a choice.

The reality is that the system will drift into a state of crisis or we confront the existential challenge now. This transcends narrow party politics. We have to decide as a country how much we want to spend on our NHS and care system. What can we do differently to make better use of the resources available? Should we consider, as I have proposed, a dedicated NHS and Care Tax and give local areas the ability to vary it? Should we end the artificial divide between the NHS and social care? We fund health and social care through 3 different routes - the NHS, local authorities and the benefits system. Does this make sense?

The NHS commands an extraordinary level of support in our country. It's an amazing demonstration of social solidarity and decency. It's also the best system in the world according to the Commonwealth Fund in 2014. Yet we cannot take the survival of the NHS and social care services for granted. 

William Beveridge proposed the National Health Service. It is now time for a new Beveridge Commission for the 21st century.

Sign up to support Norman Lamb's campaign for a new Beveridge Commission for the NHS here.


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