MPs pressure Lamb to address ‘intolerable’ failings in children’s mental health care

Care minister says NHS England review of services will report within weeks

Norman Lamb
Care and support minister Norman Lamb (Credit: Steve Meddle/Rex Features)

A group of MPs have put pressure on the government to address a national shortage of beds at young people’s mental health units.

In a house of commons session on mental health crisis beds, care minister Norman Lamb was pressed by Labour and Conservative MPs on what action he would take to ensure enough children’s beds were commissioned by NHS England. Last week Community Care revealed that more young people are being admitted to adult wards or sent miles from home for care amid the bed shortage.

Lamb admitted yesterday that the situation is “intolerable”. The minister said NHS England’s ‘rapid review’ of children’s mental health beds will report in a matter of weeks.

Liz Kendall, shadow care minister, accused Lamb of shirking the government’s responsibility for the problem.

“The minister has said that this is unacceptable as though it is nothing to do with him, but he voted for an NHS reorganisation that is wasting time and money as vulnerable children are forced on to adult wards or transported hundreds of miles across the country. When the review reports, what action will he take an by when it will it be implemented?,” said Kendall.

Lamb responded by saying that the government had legislated for parity of esteem “so that mental health is treated equally with physical health”.

“However, I have accepted her case and agree that the situation is intolerable. We have to make sure that beds for children and young people are available when they are needed.”

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