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Mental healthcare is 'an appalling lottery' says Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton
MENTAL health patients are waiting up to two years for treatment in Hampshire, an MP has warned – condemning an “appalling lottery”.
Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton introduced his own Bill to impose maximum waiting times for the mentally ill – in the same way that other patients are treated within 18 weeks.
The Liberal Democrat argued that equal access to psychological treatments - as well as drug treatments for depression - would boost the economy by £1bn a year.
And he told MPs: “Astonishingly, people with mental health problems do not currently have the same rights to timely access to treatment as those with other types of ill health.
“So, what does this mean for my constituents in Eastleigh and others with mental health issues?
“Well, if somebody goes to their doctor seeking support for a mental illness, and they are referred for treatment, they could be waiting two weeks, two months - or even two years.
“In fact, it is quite possible that may never receive any effective treatment at all. It is, quite simply, appalling. It’s a lottery.”
Mt Thornton warned that lack of treatment was leading to the breakdown of relationships and to people being forced or give up jobs completely.
He added: “Children with mental health problems miss out on months of vital schooling, disrupting not only their education, but their whole future.”
Yet early treatment could prevent later mental health crisis, which had resulted in a 42 per cent increase in rates of detention under the Mental Health Act.
Mr Thornton also criticised a failure to collect proper waiting time statistics for people who need psychological treatments, which he said “further compounds the problem”.
He added: "Without a mandatory maximum waiting time, there is no consequence for those Trusts which do not provide timely treatment.”
And he said: “If you are ill, you are ill. Let us remove the artificial, anachronistic and absurd distinction between so called mental and physical illnesses.”
The Bill was given a second reading, but has virtually no chance of becoming law because of a lack of parliamentary time.
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