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Improving the system of care

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officer1A NEW agreement to improve the system of care and support for people in a mental health crisis has been signed by the Welsh Government, police forces, the NHS, councils and other agencies. The crisis care concordat commits the organisations which have signed up to work together to intervene early and, if possible, to reduce the likelihood of people posing a risk to themselves or others as a result of a mental health condition. A key part of this approach are new proposals to reduce the use of police custody for people suffering with mental health problems. People with suspected mental health issues who are detained under the Mental Health Act should be assessed within three hours and not be held in police custody for more than 12 hours.

All organisations which sign the concordat have made a commitment to find the most appropriate support needed for people in whatever situation and whichever service a person turns to, making sure that any intervention is carried out without any unnecessary or inappropriate placement; for example within police custody. Other commitments include: People under 18 who experience a mental health crisis should never be held in police custody unless in exceptional circumstances; Police vehicles will rarely be used to convey people in crisis, except the most violent of individuals and only in exceptional cases to transport people between NHS facilities; NHS transport or other health vehicles, but not necessarily an ambulance, should be commissioned to take people in a mental health crisis to hospital; If a young person under 18 is detained under section 135 or 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to a police station for assessment, a case review will be held within seven days to determine whether this could have been avoided in order to learn from that incident; Monitoring groups within health boards will review every section 135 and 136 detention within police custody to determine its appropriateness.

Health and Social Services Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “This new agreement is about providing the most appropriate care and support to those facing a mental health crisis, whatever the time, every day of the year. “It is about all those who have signed up working closely together so we avoid people being wrongly kept in a police cell and instead being given access to the right treatment for them. I am delighted this deal has brought together so many organisations that have a vital role to play.” Jon Stratford, assistant chief constable, South Wales Police said: “Too many people end up in police cells when detained for their own or others’ safety under the Mental Health Act instead of receiving appropriate support and help. We welcome the development of the crisis care concordat. “The signing of today’s agreement is an important step in improving how all agencies work together to protect vulnerable people.” Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru and chair of the Wales Alliance on Mental Health, said: “When you are in crisis you are at your most vulnerable. You may be experiencing delusions or hallucinations, you might be suicidal or self-harming, it can be very frightening – you need the right help urgently.

“A police cell is a completely inappropriate environment in which to receive that care and support. Mind has been campaigning for action on reducing the use of police cells for people in crisis for many years. Bringing together so many agencies including the police, the NHS and the third sector is a great achievement and shows how determined we are to create change. “This is a crucial first step. There’s a lot more to do to make sure that anyone experiencing a mental health crisis gets the right care. We need to make sure that mental health services can cope with demand and get people the help they need early on to prevent them reaching crisis point in the first place. Great crisis care exists but we need to make sure it exists for anyone in Wales who needs it.” Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said: “I welcome this Concordat. “I raised this issue with Welsh Government two years ago and I’m glad that Dyfed-Powys Police and Hywel Dda University Health Board have led the way.”

Explaining how Dyfed Powys Police had taken steps to anticipate the Concordat, Mr Salmon continued: “I’m delighted that – a year after we launched our Street Triage scheme to help those in mental distress during police incidents – the Concordat will recognise the importance of treating mental illness as a health issue, not a police one. “The work of all those involved in delivering our local service is to be applauded; a huge amount of effort and expertise has resulted in a great new project.” Mr Salmon concluded: “In the past, many people have been locked in police cells when what they’ve really needed is health treatment. Across the Hywel Dda area – Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire – they now get that treatment. “The Concordat has been a long time coming but will put clear responsibility on health services to treat mental health cases. The police will be there to help, not the other way round. It’s a great example of work between the police and the health board.”

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Man accused of sexually assaulting six-year-old girls

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A FORMER Penparcau man is to stand trial accused of sexually assaulting two six year old girls.

Raymond Albert Wardall, 55, now of Blaenllynant Lodge, Queens Road, Aberystwyth, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Wardall denied a total of eight charges of sexual assault and sexual touching.

He will stand trial on November 27 and was granted bail until then.

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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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