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Yesterday I had another productive meeting in Parliament with
Paul Burstow and some of his Lib Dem colleagues. The room we ended
up in was very high up in the Palace of Westminster and repairs
were taking place to a leaky section of roof which, given my recent
problems at home, I tried not to take personally!
The meeting, which was also attended by colleagues from Mind, gave
me the chance to continue to push for more integration of services
and flag up the College’s ongoing work on commissioning. As well as
the opportunities around commissioning regarding mental health, I
raised my genuine concerns about commissioning for vulnerable
groups and the danger of people falling through the gaps in the
system. I also raised the issue of the mental health problems in
those with long term physical conditions not being picked up and
the knock on effect for those effected and the wider NHS.
Parity of esteem was high on the agenda and our work in this area
continues. On education, I made the point that whilst we were
pleased that GP training was to be extended and given more a mental
health focus, it was vital for medical students spend to more time
looking at psychiatry during their rotation. This would not only
lead to an increase in students wishing to become psychiatrists
(who wouldn’t!) but would mean that even those that decided to
specialise in other areas would be better equipped to consider the
psychological aspects of patient care.
I am very pleased to see that
there seems to be genuine cross party support for the Mental Health
(Discrimination) Bill, to repeal three areas of discrimination
against those with mental health conditions relating to MPs, jurors
and company directors. The College has worked on the Bill since it
was originally introduced in the Lords by Dennis Stevenson last
year, and I look forward to its first full debate in the Commons on
We left through Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the
Parliamentary estate, and I was informed that tennis balls from the
time of Henry VII were found in the roof when it was last repaired.
As Wimbledon fortnight gets under way, let’s hope for the sake of
the tennis (and my roof!) that we all see some bright weather over
the next few days.
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