Bedford MP accuses PM of “waffle” over funding for “desperately needed” mental health facility

Mohammad Yasin MP for Bedford and Kempston speaking in the House of Commons
Mohammad Yasin MP for Bedford and Kempston speaking in the House of Commons

The MP for Bedford and Kempston accused the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, of “waffle” in answer to a question about funding for a new in-patient mental health facility planned for Bedford.

On Thursday, Mohammad Yasin MP asked the Prime Minister if he would get some common sense and release the funding for Beford Health Village, a new in-patient mental health facility for adults and children planned for Bedford.

In a question to Rishi Sunak in the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ), Mohammad Yasin MP said, “Funding to bring desperately needed inpatient mental health beds to Bedford is sitting in the bank account of our local mental health trust, not to be touched because of this Government’s ridiculous capital spending limits.

“Will the Prime Minister meet with the East London Foundation Trust, apply some common sense, and find a way to release the cash to get this mental health unit built so my constituents don’t have to travel miles to access services?”

The Prime Minister responded, “Mr Speaker we are investing record funds into NHS capital, particularly I can tell the Honourable member into mental health services, taking more action than any previous government and at the heart of the NHS long term plan is the largest
expansion of mental health services in a generation.

“I’ll ensure that the appropriate member writes to him with an update on the conversations between his Trust and their local capital.”

Last month the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) expression of interest to join the new hospitals programme for Bedford Health Village development had not been successful.

Read: Monthly column: Outcry over Government scuppering plans for Bedford Health Village

This was a potential primary source of Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit cover that is a critical path requirement for ELFT to have in place to move their programme of work on.

ELFT are exploring other options, though in their words “this is not straightforward.”

ELFT are also at present concluding a second phase of work with architects to look at design considerations in the context of construction industry inflation and the impact on overall costs which they expect to conclude later in June.

Investment of around £37m had been planned across the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes integrated care system (ICS) by 2023/24 to meet rising demand locally.

In October, ELFT revealed a site overall plan for a £60m new premises at Bedford Health Village to return inpatient mental health services to Bedford including children’s inpatient care, while around £10m was going to be spent improving the Luton Centre for Mental Health, next to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

Read: Rising from the ashes: £60m mental health in-patient facility proposed for hospital fire site

Following PMQs, Mr Yasin said, “The Prime Minister completely failed to address my question and waffled on about record investment into mental health services. The truth is his government junked the 10-year mental health plan and binned thousands of responses to the consultation.

“We have a mental health epidemic with record numbers of patients waiting to access services.

“Over 15 thousand children and over 17 thousand adults are on mental health waiting lists in NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board.”

Mr Yasin said that the government’s proposed 40 new hospitals were “nowhere to be seen” and that it made “no sense whatsoever” that ELFT was prevent from spending the money on the much-needed facility because of the Government’s “arbitrary cap on spending”.

He said: “The new mental health hospitals announced by the Government last month are not new at all – they’re just using funds to patch up hospitals and pass them off as new.

“The public aren’t stupid. My constituents know it’s very wrong that they have to travel miles outside their area to access treatment or visit loved ones.”

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