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Warning for the PM

The independent panel commissioned by prime minister Theresa May to review the Mental Health Act 1983 published its interim findings this week.

In an interview with HSJ, panel chair Professor Sir Simon Wessely followed its publication by sending a warning shot across the bows of the Treasury – the panel’s recommendations will call for more cash for the sector.

We do not yet know what this figure might be, and probably won’t until the final report and recommendations are published in November or December.

But it places an important marker in the sand over where Sir Simon and his team see the report going.

It also piles the pressure on Ms May and the Department of Health and Social Care. Sir Simon and his team were commissioned to produce the report by the PM herself, when she made her pre-election pledge to rip up and replace the “flawed” act last year.

Sir Simon is very aware of the knife edge the panel is walking – ask for too little and major change is unlikely, but ask for too much and you risk “terrifying the horses so they bolt out of the stable”. This could leave the review gathering dust in the House of Commons library.

That would be a tremendous shame because as the interim findings make clear, the act and the way it is put into practice are long overdue an overhaul.