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Letter from the Office of Nick Clegg MP to Barry Haslam, February 29, 2008

H O U S E   OF   C O M M O N S

Sheffield Hallam
Tel: 020 7219 6657
Fax: 020 7219 0260
Email: cleggn@parliament.uk

Ref: NC280208/21LT

29 February 2008

Mr Barry Haslam

Dear Mr Haslam,

Thank you for your letter to Nick Clegg MP regarding your experiences of Mental Health treatment. Nick has asked me to reply to you on his behalf, thanking you for your comments on this important issue.

Since becoming leader, Nick has chosen to lead the debate on failing Mental Health care in Britain today. He finds it completely ridiculous that the current Government has cut Mental Health budget throughout the UK in the last two years.

For example, an estimated £60million pounds was taken away from mental health services in England in 2006, worrying when figures show that 1 in 3 people in Britain will be affected by some form of mental illness in their lifetime.

Nick understands that treatment must be appropriate to each patientís unique case. As you say, there is simply no point in over medicating patients, rather than addressing their proper treatment needs. More so, overmedication leads to addiction - with treatment centres, as you highlight, inadequate to demand at this current time. I have passed your comments onto Nick, with regards to the over prescription of Benzodiazepines for his information.

It is essential therefore, that we must make sure patients get access to the right kind of treatment, treatment which will enable them to engage in normal life. However, the Liberal Democrats also realise that prevention must go hand in hand with cure - especially in those cases of Mental Health illness that may benefit from education and awareness in schools and wider communities such as the cases you highlight.

At Prime Ministerís Questions on Wednesday 27th February 2008 Nick focused his questions on Mental Health, particularly anti-depressants and the shortage of qualified experts within the field. Both questions are written in full below.

  1. The NHS spends more than £300 million a year on anti-depressant drugs, which we learned yesterday probably do not help many of the people taking them. Is it not time the Prime Minister developed a mental health strategy that helps patients rather than pouring millions of pounds into the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry for drugs that do not even work?

  2. On the issue of mental health, has the Prime Minister forgotten what his own expert, Lord Layard said? He said that we need an additional 10,000 therapists, not the 3,000 that the Prime Minister is talking about. Why is he taking half measures when we have the scandal of some patients waiting up to three and a half years just to see a therapist?

Nick is committed to halting the sweeping epidemic of mental health and overuse of prescription drugs in the near future.

Thank you once again for writing to us.

Yours sincerely,

Victorian Helyar-Cardwell
Correspondence Manager, Office of the Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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