MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week I visited an excellent local facility that provides rehabilitative care to people living with enduring mental health problems.

I was extremely impressed by the hard work and dedication of the healthcare professionals who work there, providing 24 hour residential care, supporting people with complex conditions into living gradually more independent lives.

One of the most important measures introduced by the last coalition government was to write into law that mental health must be given equal priority to the treatment of physical health conditions.

Current estimates show that 1 in 4 people in the country are affected by mental health problems and that mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK.

Despite the government’s efforts, only 13 per cent of the NHS budget is allocated to mental health services – it is obvious that much more needs to be done.

Earlier this year, the independent Mental Health Taskforce concluded a report, which recommended a five year strategy to drastically improve the treatment of mental health problems across the NHS.

I am urging NHS England to implement the findings of this report, in full, so that the excellent specialist care that I saw being provided this week, will be available to all those who need it in the future.

On Tuesday, I was in the House of Commons to welcome the government’s announcement that it backs Heathrow Airport’s bid to build a third runway.

In particular I was pleased that, when Heathrow expands, the government has guaranteed that flights between the airport and the North of England will be increased.

This means that the South East will not be the sole beneficiary of increased airport capacity, and that we will also be able to take advantage of the additional destinations and flights that will eventually become available to both business and tourist destinations.

Many of you will recall that last year I launched an appeal to fund a new sixth form centre at Pear Tree Specialist School in Kirkham, in conjunction with the Lytham St Annes Express.

I am delighted that this state-of-the-art new facility had its official opening this week, ensuring that the school continues in the excellent work it does to support our disabled and vulnerable young people.

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