Birmingham Salon

National Happiness, Immortality & Freedom Service: Are the UK’s Mental Health Needs too much for the NHS?

Thursday 12th May 2016.
6pm to 8pm at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 75 Harborne Road, Birmingham B15 3DH

As part of our ongoing collaboration with Birmingham Medical Institute, we will be exploring the extraordinary demands that mental health is making on the NHS, with a prestigious discussion panel that includes Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health.

In January 2016 the Prime Minister announced ‘a revolution in mental health treatment’. The previous year, the President of the Royal College of Psychiatry had advised the NHS in England to commit to ‘the biggest transformation of mental health care across the NHS in a generation, pledging to help more than a million extra people and investing more than a billion pounds a year by 2020/21’. A Mental Health Taskforce then set about creating and publishing a five-year all-age national strategy for mental health. 

Is this revolution enough to address what Luciana Berger MP has referred to as a ‘perfect storm”? After all, patients are struggling to get a referral, waiting times across the country are far too long, and ‘global recession and austerity’ place strains on people everywhere. 

Beneath all the talk of savings and efficiencies, you don’t have to be a health economist to understand that if there is less money in there will eventually be less care going out. Much is made of legally-enshrined definitions of quality as ‘patient safety, clinical effectiveness and patient experience’.  But if the primary aim and money goes to wellbeing, happiness and preventative health, how do you fund the treatment of pre-existing conditions such as psychosis?  

Alongside austerity, the number of people detained subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 has been growing, with the CQC informing us that ‘there were over 50,000 uses of the Mental Health Act in 2012/13 – the highest number ever recorded’.  Efforts to reverse the trend of costly and distressing detention with increased freedom and wellbeing can rub up against aims for safety and the tragedies of suicide and homicide. Inquiries all too often result in calls to observe patients more closely and not let them leave hospital. Indeed if health professionals fail to deprive people of their liberty, they are increasingly likely to lose their own liberty in the event of a death. David Sellu, for instance, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence in 2013.
So in this brave new world, how can the NHS Mental Services meet the UK’s mental health needs?

Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health

Dr Jonathan Shapiro, Chairman of Education for Health

Tamar Whyte, Peer Worker

Inspector Michael Brown, Mental Health Cop

Dr Muj Hussain, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist

The debate will be chaired by Dr Jonathan Hurlow.

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