NEWS

A group of 50 mental health charities have accused politicians from all parties of excluding mental health issues from the general election debate because it is not seen as a vote winner.

The Mental Health Alliance has brought together charities including Sane, the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, and Mind to lobby politicians throughout the election campaign to amend the Mental Health Act.

Their key demands are the legal right to a psychiatric assessment followed by the correct care and treatment for any condition diagnosed.

A spokesman for NSF said politicians shied away from debating mental health issues 'because they think there are no votes in it'.

Sue Brown, campaign manager of Mind, said: 'I want to ask all politicians what they are going to do to address some of the problems. By that I do not mean public safety issues, but why people are not getting access to services when they need them. '

Allegations about access to care and treatment go to the heart of the case of Sarah Lawson, whose father was found guilty of her manslaughter last week.

Mr Lawson told the court he was complying with his daughter's wishes when he helped her take an overdose and suffocated her after the NHS had repeatedly failed her. The court heard that Ms Lawson, who had a long history of psychiatric illness, was asked to leave Homefields, a mental health unit run by Worthing Priority Care trust, just hours before her death.

In a statement the trust said Ms Lawson, a voluntary patient, was asked to leave when it was discovered that she had breached an agreement regarding drugs and alcohol by giving cannabis to another patient.

The trust expressed regret at the 'tragic events' leading up to Ms Lawson's death.

It has now ordered an independent review and said that the findings of this should be made public.