It seems like real strides have been made in mental health support in Dover and Deal. I visited Coleman House in Dover to meet with Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) chief executive Helen Greatorex, her deputy Victoria Stevens, and the area's new permanent consultant Dr Kirsten Lawson.
Earlier this year KMPT received an improved rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and stats show improved performance has followed.
It was great to get the latest from Helen and her team. Mental healthcare is incredibly important. For too long it was given less attention than physical health and people struggled to get proper support. But this Government acted to give it equal weight in law, along with an extra £2.25 billion by 2020. I'm pleased to see this is already helping things on the ground.
CQC rated eight out of ten services provided by the trust as Good or Outstanding. Inspectors said KMPT was closing in on being rated Outstanding overall, something boasted by only two trusts across the country.
Dr Kirsten Lawson began running services in the Dover, Deal and Folkestone area in June. For the previous 18 months it had been served by locum doctors on rotation.
Recently the area has consistently exceeded the national target of 95% of patients receiving follow-up contact within a week of being discharged. Assessments within four weeks have also improved significantly, increasing each month from 46% in March to 80% in August.
I have pushed hard for better mental healthcare since I became MP and things finally look like they are on the up. There is more work to be done, of course, but real strides have been made.
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