The King's Fund statement in response to the Queen's speech 2002

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'The King's Fund is pleased that the government has decided to take more time to get its Mental Health Bill right,' The King's Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said today.

Responding to the Queen's Speech, Julia Neuberger said:

'The government's Draft Bill, published earlier this year, was both unworkable and unethical. It's exclusion from the Queen's Speech is very welcome. We look forward to working with the Government on a more sensible replacement for the outdated 1983 Mental Health Act. Dangerousness, meanwhile, can be more effectively dealt with in the Bill on criminal sentencing.'

The King's Fund is a core member of the Mental Health Alliance. The Alliance is calling on the government to think again about its reforms to the Mental Health Act, and to tackle public safety concerns separately from mental health issues.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger also commented:

'The Bill to create foundation hospitals promises some far-reaching changes to the way the NHS is run. Combined with a more rational and independent system of regulation for both health and social care, they could bring about more decentralised and innovative public services.

'Foundation trusts are an experiment worth pursuing. But foundation status should not be limited to those trusts with three stars, and it should devolve real power to the local NHS and not just superficial autonomy from every central directive.

'Charging local authorities for delayed discharges, meanwhile, is unlikely in itself to eradicate the problem of 'bed blocking'. As a King's Fund report published today shows, more fundamental reforms will be needed to modernise care services. Unfinished Business, by Janice Robinson, shows that only a sustained injection of extra funding into social care, along with a concerted effort to enhance the status of care work, will be enough.

'Care services have, for too long, been the poor relations of the NHS. Penalising them for being insufficiently resourced does not make sense. Reimbursement will only be effective if local authorities have the money and staff at hand to deliver the quantity and quality of care that their communities require.'

Notes to editors

1. Unfinished Business is published today by The King's Fund.

2. For interviews with senior King's Fund staff or information about Unfinished Business, please contact Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581.