More than quarter of patients attending London’s A&E departments are affected by mental health issues, according to evidence heard by the London Assembly this week.
The Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee is investigating the challenges facing mental health services in the capital.
Earlier this week Assembly Members questioned experts on the ability of mental health services to deal with increased demand at a time when the NHS has to find up to £20 billion of savings by 2015.
AMs were also told that almost a third of people consulting their GPs are affected by mental health issues, and that the link between mental and physical health meant the two must be tackled together.
The committee also heard that the abolition of NHS London in just over a year means there may no longer be London-wide oversight for mental health services from 2013.
AMs are writing to NHS London to stress the need for regional oversight and to the Mayor’s Health Advisor.
They will also write to Pamela Chesters, health advisor to Boris Johnson, about the importance of including mental health in the work of the London Health Improvement Board.
Committee chair Victoria Borwick said: “The statistics we heard today illustrated the enormous number of people affected by mental health issues, so it is essential that the right support is readily available when it is needed.
“However, we were told that if someone’s car breaks down, they can expect help within one hour, yet for someone with schizophrenia, the wait is far, far longer and can be up to 18 months. This is unacceptable and we will continue to keep a watching brief on developments.”