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.