Leeds MP Fabian Hamilton says lives are at risk amid NHS mental health issues

Fabian Hamilton, the MP for Leeds North East.
Fabian Hamilton, the MP for Leeds North East.

LIVES are being put at risk by a crisis in NHS mental health services which is seeing vulnerable patients left on waiting lists for months, an MP has warned.

Fabian Hamilton, the MP for Leeds North-East, used a debate in the House of Commons to outline a catalogue of problems which he claimed patients in the West Yorkshire city are facing.

He highlighted the case of Andy Downey, who Mr Hamilton said has faced a string of delays in getting the help he needs after first seeing his GP in 2016 while suffering from depression.

During the Westminster Hall debate, Mr Hamilton said Mr Downey’s wife, Charley, had provided pages of evidence about her husband’s treatment. Mr Hamilton said Mr Downey continues to face delays after it took more than a year to get a mental health referral, which only happened after an ambulance was called.

He said: “The fragmentation and under-resourcing of Mental Health services, especially in Leeds, means that lives are often at risk. We have had several debates in this House over the past few years about depression and the effect that it can have on the individual and everyone who cares about that person, with a few brave MPs telling the House and the public what they have suffered themselves.

“But unless we make our mental health a priority, we will have more and more cases like that of Andy Downey and his wife Charley – who is present here today – and has had to carry the burden of incompetent and inadequate public services on her own shoulders.”

Mr Hamilton told fellow MPs that the example was not an isolated case and there is a waiting list of 10 months for patients seeking mental health treatment in the city.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jackie Doyle-Price, responded: “I will go away and take a deeper look at what he has highlighted, because it is a very good example of how things can go wrong.”

She said it was important to deliver services more consistently through the Care Quality Commission.

In a joint statement, Thea Stein, the chief executive at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Sara Munro, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust’s chief executive, said: “We’re sorry to hear about Mr Downey’s experience of accessing mental health services in Leeds.

We are committed to looking into the particular circumstances surrounding Mr Downey’s experience and we would welcome further discussions with Mr Hamilton regarding the concerns he has raised.”

In terms of the waiting times, a spokesman for the latter trust said its Community Mental Health Teams achieve a target of seeing more than 80 per cent of patients within 15 working days of referral.