RCP strengthens lobbying team

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has strengthened its public ­affairs team as it fights against a controversial attempt to overhaul England's mental health laws.

The charity is fiercely opposed to the Mental Health Bill, which it believes to be Draconian. It feels that changes brought in by the bill risk deterring vulnerable people from seeking help.

The RCP has hired Neil Balmer, former parliamentary assistant in the Liberal Democrats Whips’ Office in the House of Lords, as it presses ministers to make a number of amendments to the bill.

Balmer is a former political secretary to Lord McNally – leader of the Lib Dems in the House of Lords – and joins the RCP as public affairs officer, reporting to head of external affairs Deborah Hart.

This week, the Mental Health Bill returned to the Commons for its final stages after suffering a string of defeats in the House of Lords.

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