Local MP speaks out in Commons on mental health unit closure

Andrew Jones MPHarrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, used a special adjournment debate in the House of Commons this week to highlight his concerns over the continued closure of the Hawthorn Day Care Unit in Harrogate. The mental health facility has been closed for well over a year now and Mr Jones has consistently campaigned for it to reopen.

The full debate can be read here



In August, responsibility for mental health care in Harrogate & Knaresborough passed from North Yorkshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) to Tees, Esk and Wear Valley PCT. Mr Jones has already spoken with the Chief Executive of the PCT – Martin Barkley – and together they have arranged a meeting with service users who can voice their concerns directly to Mr Barkley.

Speaking in the debate of the first time he met the users of the closed day care unit Mr Jones said:

It was an emotional and powerful meeting – one of the most powerful I have attended since starting as an MP. The users, who had no obligation to attend, spoke openly of their experiences and the struggles they were facing. They were brave to do so.

Mr Jones continued:

The unit that closed provided a safe haven for those who really needed somewhere secure, because those facing mental health issues still face some stigma and discrimination in this country. It also helped by providing users with support to ensure that they took their medication, and it offered them compassion and respect. I have been in regular contact with the users since the unit closed, and I am very pleased that this week, that we have secured a meeting between the users and the chief executive of the NHS foundation trust. I am hopeful that we will see the unit reopened.

The meeting with Mr Barkley and former users of the unit takes place on 16 December 2011. Mr Jones is writing to all those who have contacted him on this issue to invite them to attend.



Full Transcript of  Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough, Conservative) speaking in the House:

I thank my hon. Friend Mr Walker for so generously allowing me time in the

Adjournment debate that he has secured. He and I have spoken about mental health provision several times before, although not, I believe, in the Chamber. We have spoken particularly about our concern that mental health provision is a Cinderella service in the NHS.

I wish to highlight an issue of access in my constituency, which is the closure of the Hawthorn day unit in Harrogate. When that happened, I had a meeting with the users of the unit and their carers. It was emotional and powerful meeting—one of the most powerful that I have attended since starting as an MP. The users, who had no obligation to attend, spoke openly and powerfully of their experiences and the struggles they were facing, and they were brave to do so.

The unit that closed provided a safe haven for those who really needed somewhere secure, because those facing mental health issues still face some stigma and discrimination in this country. It also helped by providing users with support to ensure that they took their medication, and it offered them the compassion and respect that my hon. Friend talked about. I have been in regular contact with the users since the unit closed, and I am very pleased that this week, we have secured a meeting between the users and the chief executive of the NHS foundation trust, which will take place in my office in about three weeks. I am hopeful that we will see the unit reopened.

I close by congratulating my hon. Friend on all he does in highlighting mental health issues around the country, and on speaking so passionately and with such determination and eloquence this evening. I also say to the Minister that I read the publication “No health without mental health”, which was published in February, and was very encouraged by it. I thought it represented great progress.

 


One thought on “Local MP speaks out in Commons on mental health unit closure

  1. I work with carers of people suffering from mental health problems. Not only does the closure of centres such as the Hawthorns impact on the patients themselves, it also has a direct detrimental effect on their carers and families. Suitable respite is hard to access, funding towards breaks for carers is minimal and hard-fought for, and the caring role can be stressful, exhausting physically and mentally and relentless, and is often performed by loved ones into frail old age. The existence of centres such as the Hawthorns benefitted patients and their carers alike by offering support and respite which is sadly becoming increasingly scarce. Thank you Andrew Jones for taking up this cause. Mental Health still carries great stigma often provokes feelings of fear and discomfort in those who lack understanding of the issues. As such perhaps doesn’t recieve the same priority as other health issues and sufferers and their carers can receive a lesser service in terms of facilities and support. As well as the pension cuts, it was also against such cutbacks that 10,000 workers marched yesterday in Leeds to protest against the current government’s perpetual squeezing of public services and workers. If you are able, please support this and any ongoing action to safeguard public services. They exist to serve, support, care for and educate our children, our sick, our elderly and our most vulnerable members of society. We will all require these services at some point. These services and the hard-working and committed individuals who run them need to be invested in so that YOUR public services remain fit for purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *