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Every Death in a Mental Health Unit Is a Tragedy - We Are Working to Never Let People Like Sara Green Down

13/04/2016 08:28

The story of Sara Green - movingly told by Panorama - is a tragedy. I am doing everything I can to prevent a young person suffering like this again.

In the past, young people's mental health has not received the funding it desperately needs, but this Government is changing that. We are injecting one of the largest investments the sector has ever seen, £1.4billion over the next five years. Let me be clear, despite some claims: all the money will be made available over this Parliament.

But money without action, or a plan, is not enough.

Working with organisations like Young Minds, we asked every area in the country to transform their services with health, education and local authorities working together.

Nothing happens overnight. We are working across Government on this and are in the first year of a five-year plan. But already there are changes on the frontline. One example is in Surrey where brand new services have just launched that mean more young people will get the care they need, before they reach crisis point.

This is a cross-government effort and I am working closely with the Department for Education, which now has, in Sam Gyimah, the first ever education minister responsible for young people's mental health. With NHS England we have invested £3million to test single points of contact in schools and mental health services as a practical way to make early intervention work. And we've published a blueprint for improved school counselling services, provided lesson plans to teach children of all ages about mental health, and will be investing in projects that inspire and help young people to support each other.

There is still too much variation in services. But this Government has introduced, for the first time in NHS history, waiting times for mental health. This is the only way to solve the challenges we face - through a long-term plan backed by consistent funding.

Every death in a mental health unit is a tragedy and none happen without in-depth investigation. But Panorama has unearthed an important question about how these investigations are then reported so that the whole NHS can learn lessons at every opportunity.

We are creating the safest healthcare system in the world and I know that unless we make changes across the whole system, we risk letting people like Sara down. That's not a risk I'm willing to take.

Alistair Burt is the Minister of State for Community and Social Care

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