Ann Coffey

Category Archives: Mental Health


Stockport Express column July 2017

It’s nearly the end of the school term, when children and teachers can take stock of a busy year and look forward to the summer holidays.

I was delighted to be invited back to Stockport Academy in Cheadle Heath to hear about the students’ achievements over the year, which are truly impressive. They put in so much hard work and are a real credit to the excellent teaching and learning at the Academy.

Meeting members of the Academy’s School Council, it was also clear that school is not just about exams. So much work in schools goes into helping young people develop the skills which they need to cope and succeed in today’s complicated and often stressful world.

It seems there are increasing numbers of children and young people in the UK who are experiencing anxiety or may have a diagnosable mental health condition. And they are facing more pressures than ever before – including exam pressure, social media bullying, worries about body image.

When I was researching my reports into child sexual exploitation, some of the best examples of good support for young people came from other young people. We should listen more to young people.

So I was interested to hear that the Academy’s School Council is involved in a project to help support students’ wellbeing; encouraging young people to talk about their worries, thinking about the best way to support one another emotionally, being aware of any mental health issues and understanding what might actually make a difference.

If a young person’s mental health issues can be picked up early, and they get support, then they are more likely to flourish and succeed in whatever they do – including exams.   As parents, we all want our children to be happy first and foremost, and it is good that the education system recognises this.

 

Victory in fight to help dementia sufferers

PRESS RELEASE FROM ANN COFFEY MP

17/11/2016                                                                                                    

Victory in MP’s fight to help dementia sufferers

Ann Coffey MP has been successful in her long running campaign to scrap distressing rules that mean dementia sufferers who die in care homes are deemed to be “in state detention”.

Ms Coffey has been fighting in for a change of law in Parliament since families told her of the distress of having to wait to bury their loved ones because inquests are required into the deaths of dementia sufferers who die in care and are subject to a Deprivation of Liberty safeguard.

This meant that even if a person died of natural causes the police had to attend to sit with the body until an ambulance arrived and relatives must then visit a mortuary to identify the body again. Then an inquest had to take place.

Ms Coffey argued that this caused unnecessary anguish to families, delays in funerals and was costing the taxpayer millions.

She lobbied ministers and the Chief Coroner and introduced a Private Members Bill in November last year and she also tabled an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill this year.

Now last night the Government supported the amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill in the House of Lords which means that a person who dies while subject to a Deprivation of Liberty order in hospital or care shall not be considered to have died in in custody or state detention.

Ms Coffey said today: “I am absolutely delighted with this change of heart on state detention and inquests. Something had to be done to stop this profound distress to relatives. When loved ones die in care, relatives should not have their grief exacerbated by this sledgehammer approach.

“However the system of DoLs itself remains an expensive bureaucratic nightmare that is diverting resources from front line care at a time when there are huge demands on the social care budget.”

The amendment was raised in the Lords by the crossbench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandoff, who is the independent chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum. The minister, Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen, said: “The Government are pleased to be able to offer our support for this amendment, which will minimise the stress on bereaved families at a very difficult time for them. The amendment will fully address the concerns that no family, having watched and comforted their loved one through his or her final days, should then be unnecessarily subject to the anxiety and confusion of having their death investigated by a coroner. “

There has been a tenfold increase in applications for DoLS after a supreme court ruling in 2014 that effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care. The problem was made worse by guidance issued by the Chief Coroner to local coroners following the Supreme Court judgement .

Stockport Council alone was expecting to spend around £1.2 million this year on DoLS assessments and has hired six new social workers, a co-ordinator, an outside agency and a part time solicitor. Local GPs have also told Ms Coffey that they are becoming overwhelmed.

Councils were inundated with DoLS applications from care homes after a Supreme Court ruling last year, which effectively lowered the threshold for what constitutes deprivation of liberty in care. The problem was made worse by guidance issued by the Chief Coroner to local coroners’ following the Supreme Court judgement. The Chief Coroner said then that all persons who die subject to a DoLS order must be the subject of a coroner investigation, whether the death was from natural causes or not. For the purposes of the 2009 Coroners’ & Justice Act they are deemed to be in “state detention.”

ENDS

For further information contact Joy Copley 07786 357145

The Lords amendment:

Coroners’ investigations into deaths: meaning of “state detention”

(1) Section 48 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (interpretation of Part 1:

general) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), in the definition of “state detention”, after “subsection (2)”

insert “(read with subsection (2A))”.

(3) In subsection (2), at the beginning insert “Subject to subsection (2A),”.

(4) After subsection (2) insert—

“(2A) But a person is not in state detention at any time when he or she is

deprived of liberty under section 4A(3) or (5) or 4B of the Mental

Capacity Act 2005.””

It can be found at p.13 of the marshalled list: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2016-2017/0055/17055-V.pdf

Hidden Issue of Mental health highlighted

Last week was National Mental Health Awareness Week (16 – 22 May) and I met with local resident Gill Ball to show my support for her CogKNITive Therapy campaign.

Gill has got together with a few friends to knit a mental health “bandage”, which she wore on the steps of the Town Hall to show how, although physical ill health can often be seen straight away, mental suffering can often be invisible.

I think Gill has come up with an outstanding way of showing how we must challenge public attitudes to mental health and recognise that mental health should be treated with as much care as physical illness.

Gill Ball