James Heappey Weekly Column

When I was re-elected as your MP on December 13th, I set out several priorities which I believe to be of the upmost importance. 

One of those was the mental health provision here in Somerset. I have spoken a lot about the parity of esteem between mental and physical health and how I want to see us achieve that as soon as possible.

To do this, we need to ensure those suffering with a mental health issue can be treated as effectively as if they break a bone in their arm or leg.

Last Friday, I met with the Chief Executive of Somerset CCG, as well as two excellent organisations in my constituency which deliver mental health services. I know there is some unease in and around Wells regarding the proposal to move the acute beds in St Andrews Ward to Yeovil. I was very clear with the CCG that if this was a financial decision, I would raise it with the Government immediately. However, this does not seem to be the case and I have been assured this is a clinical decision.

I do not believe the ward should be closed and I would encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming consultation.

I will be pushing to hear from clinicians – and to see the appropriate data – that this is the best decision for the local community. This way, we can scrutinise effectively.

However, I do believe the overall aim must be to ensure we have community services in place which prevent people from needing admission to an acute bed in the first place.

Having met with The Space in Cheddar and In Charley’s Memory in Burnham-on-Sea last week – and as a result of my role as patron of Heads Up in Wells, I want to see collaborative working between the CCG and these crucial organisations.

I will be pushing for that to happen to ensure everyone can access mental health care of the highest standard.