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Views sought on mental health services

views soughtREBECCA EVANS AM, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, has asked the Health Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to respond to the lack of in-patient mental health services in mid Wales following claims at the recent public meeting in Aberystwyth (January 10) that some young people were being offered beds as far away as Scotland.

Mrs Evans, who chairs the Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Mental Health, used Ministerial question time to highlight the lack of in-patient mental health facilities at Bronglais Hospital. Mrs Evans described reports of people in mental distress being offered beds as far away as Scotland as “clearly unacceptable” and went on to ask Mr Drakeford to explore with Hywel Dda University Health Board how this occurred, and asked “what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

In response, Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “I thank the Member for that question”

“I have heard reports of some of the things that were said at the public meeting in Aberystwyth, and specifically on that point. So I have already asked the local crisis resolution team, the local health board itself and the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee for any evidence they have that that sort of thing has happened.

“So far, their reports to me are that none of them have been able to identify a single case of a patient from that area being placed in Scotland. Indeed, they were unable to identify any patient being placed in a facility outside the area other than when that care was specialist care necessary for that patient’s treatment.”

This is not the first time that Mrs Evans has raised mental health provision in mid Wales in the Assembly Chamber, having previously raised the issue with the First Minister. Following a meeting with Aberystwyth Students Union, Mrs Evans spoke in the Senedd about the rising number of crisis mental ill health cases amongst students in Aberystwyth, and the lack of after-care.

Mrs Evans has been scrutinising the Health Board on its mental health provision since its decision to close Afallon Ward in July 2012. The closure came in response to safety and sustainability concerns following a protracted period of recruitment difficulties for qualified clinicians.

Mrs Evans said: “At a recent meeting with the Health Board I requested a briefing on mental health provision.

“I was pleased to learn that a space has been identified in Enlli Ward, in Bronglais, to develop a designated S136 suite for Ceredigion to replace the facility previously provided at Afallon ward. S136 suites are places of safety where the police can hold people in mental distress for up to 72 hours. Holding people in police stations, as sometimes happens now, can be completely inappropriate. I understand that plans are awaiting final approval, and I would urge very speedy action on this.”

Other developments on which the Health Board has briefed Mrs Evans included the extension of the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment to provide a 24 hours per day service, following successful recruitment to the posts in December, and developments in the Therapeutic Day Service.

Mrs Evans said: “I would like to hear about people’s recent experiences of mental health services in mid Wales. I am particularly keen to hear the experiences of people who have been unable to access in-patient mental health care in Bronglais, and would like to know where they were treated instead and what impact that had on their mental health and their recovery.”

All information will be treated confidentially. Readers can contact Mrs Evans at rebecca.evans@wales.gov.uk

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Dayne Stone

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