Thank you to all constituents who have taken the time to contact me with their concerns about the Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) model of care.
I appreciate the significance of the concerns that they and the StopSIM Coalition have raised. The SIM model of care was introduced in 2013 with the aim of providing better care for the small number of patients who struggle to manage highly complex mental health disorders and place intense demands on emergency services.
Concerns have been raised, however, about the efficacy of SIM and the quality of care received by people with complex mental health problems. The Royal College of Nursing echoes the concerns raised by StopSIM and is calling for an assessment of the capacity and structure of crisis and community-based mental health services.
It is of great concern that SIM was rolled out with no evidence for its effectiveness or safety. I am pleased that the Opposition has raised these concerns with the Government, and I will monitor its response. It is vital that Ministers listen to the concerns of service users with complex mental health needs.
I am aware that NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health is writing to all Mental Health Trusts to ask them to review the implementation of SIM and similar models of care where they have been adopted. The Opposition has also written to NHS England requesting a review of the implementation of SIM. I hope these concerns are carefully considered and addressed.
As you may know, the Government has signalled its intention to reform mental health legislation, which includes long-awaited reform to address rising detentions under the Mental Health Act.
It is essential that people are at the heart of these reforms and that the voices of those affected are centred. Deprivation of liberty and the use of coercion for people suffering from serious mental health disorders can cause lasting trauma and distress. I believe the best way to reduce this is to have alternatives to emergency admissions.
Integrated community provision of mental health services is essential to ensure they work well for patients. The pandemic has shown that pressures on mental health services are building. There must be a greater emphasis on care in the community and an assurance that mental health services will be backed with the funding and resources needed to meet demand, alongside adequate investment in the mental health workforce.
I believe that we must act quickly to reform the Mental Health Act and get it right for everyone who depends on these vital services.