Norman Lamb labels psychosis care "outrageous shambles"
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman and North Norfolk MP, has accused clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the East region of being "a disgusting and outrageous shambles" when it comes to organising the treatment of patients with psychosis.
Leading a Parliamentary debate into the national provision of treatment for the serious mental disorder, Mr Lamb said freedom of information requests had revealed that many CCGs were failing to implement new national guidelines on the early treatment of psychosis.
Since April, anyone with psychosis should have been able to start treatment within two weeks of suffering their first episode, but Mr Lamb says the implementation of the new standard has been fundamentally flawed.
His research found that more than a third of CCGs couldn't say how many people in their area were in need of early intervention or how much money had been given to tackle the problem.
Eleven percent of CCGs appear to still be negotiating their funding for psychosis, several months after the new guidelines had come into force. Mr Lamb added that 23% of trusts, including Norfolk, were only providing the service to those under the age of 35, although the national standard was supposed to help people up to the age of 65.
"Why is this not being treated with the same seriousness as the standard for cancer treatment?" Mr Lamb asked.
"It is critical that people with cancer get access to treatment quickly but why should not someone with psychosis? It is scandalous."
Mr Lamb praised the southern region for being organised when it came to implementing the new guidelines, but said that in some regions virtually nothing had been done.
"The situation in the Midlands and East in particular is in my view a disgusting, outrageous shambles which should not be tolerated."
The new Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said the government was in the process of creating a mental health service to be proud of, but added: "It is not going to happen overnight.
"We have got to follow it through, no matter how bumpy the journey may become at times."
Ms Blackwood invited Mr Lamb to meet her and give her the benefit of his advice, "because I suspect I am going to need it".
Mr Lamb has been a long standing campaigner for better mental health services. He is likely to take her up on her offer.