The shadow health secretary vowed last week that the Conservative
Party would oppose the proposed mental health bill in
In his address to the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth,
Liam Fox said the pendulum had been allowed to swing “too far and
too fast in mental health policy”.
Too much of the care in the community programme had failed both
patients and the public, he said, and too many mentally ill people
“We will lead the fight in parliament to defeat the government’s
regressive mental health bill,” Fox said. “It not only stigmatises
the mentally ill but it fundamentally threatens our civil
Earlier, the chief executive of health think-tank the King’s Fund
told delegates that the proposed reforms would deter people with a
mental illness from seeking help.
Julia Neuberger said the Labour government had made progress by
introducing the National Service Framework for Mental Health and by
pushing the subject as a priority in the NHS. But the current
proposals would “change the very things that the government has
done to make mental health care better”.
Neuberger said a cross-party effort was needed and suggested two
major changes to improve mental health services: a “modern legal
framework” covering advocacy, patient involvement and a more
balanced approach to public safety; and assertive action to tackle
In a fringe meeting on mental health, shadow health minister Oliver
Heald criticised the bill for “lumping together the criminal with
the person who has an eating disorder”.
He agreed that the bill must be fought in order to achieve
improvements in sectioning procedures and a right to treatment and
Heald said there should be a partnership between the independent
and voluntary sectors, the state and individuals in order to make
best use of the services available.
“We should embrace the capacity we have and try to expand it,” he