Assembly committee told of “patchy” provision of community mental health services in Wales

Evidence regarding the provision of community mental health services in Wales has been presented to the National Assembly for Wales’ Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee.

Submissions, both written and oral, came from a number of sources including Hafal, Wales’ patient-led charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers.

During a two-hour meeting held in Committee Room 1 of the Senedd on Thursday morning the committee, chaired by the then Shadow Health and Social Services Minister Jonathan Morgan AM, received feedback on a variety of aspects relating to service provision.

Issues included:

• the capacity and geographical availability of services;
• the provision of services for young people over 16 years in transition from children’s to adult services;
• the impact of the effectiveness of community-based services on hospital admission and delayed transfers of care;
• the effective co-ordination of health and social care elements of community mental health services;
• equality issues relating to community mental health services, including those for BME groups;
• examples of good practice in the delivery of services.

Hafal’s evidence to the committee came courtesy of Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas, one of the charity’s service users, Colette Dawkin, and Lee McCabe, a staff member and former service user.

Mr Thomas informed the committee that community mental health service provisions in Wales are patchy. To illustrate his point he cited “The Burrows Greenwell Review,” a report on mental health services in Wales which Hafal published in October 2007.

On the subject of children in transition to adult services Mr Thomas stated that Hafal will shortly be commencing a project in Neath Port Talbot (funded by the Pfizer UK Foundation), “a pilot project that we believe – as a model of good practice – should be rolled out across Wales in the future”.

Mr Thomas explained that this venture will tackle the shortfall in service provision by employing a Young People’s Mental Health Officer dedicated to supporting young people aged 16 upwards.

During the meeting Mr Thomas also expressed service users’ wish, as outlined in an imminent Hafal publication entitled “New Values – New Practice”, that the forthcoming National Service Framework includes a fundamental new value of ‘putting patients first’.

He said this value should “underline all future mental health services in Wales” and that services should be “tailor-made to meet the needs of individual users”.

“One of the main ways this can be achieved,” Mr Thomas informed the committee, “is through effective care planning.”

To read Hafal’s written evidence to the committee please visit:

To read a transcript of the committee meeting held on Thursday please visit:

                               Volunteers required for study into bipolar disorder

Researchers at Cardiff and Birmingham Universities are looking for volunteers to take part in a major UK-wide study investigating the causes of bipolar disorder.

Volunteering is simple: researchers will visit the homes of participants and spend approximately one hour asking them about the type of symptoms they have experienced. Volunteers will then be asked to fill in some questionnaires and provide a small blood sample. All information will be treated in strict confidence.

If you, or anyone you know has experienced one or more episodes of unusually high mood (often called mania or hypo-mania), would like to participate please contact the Mood Disorder Research Team on 02920 744 392 or email:

                                           MDF Cymru announces new link project

MDF The Bipolar Organisation Cymru has announced that its new Bipolar Link Project will be “rolling out” across South and West Wales from April 2009.

The project will see the training of up to forty volunteers (with bipolar disorder) to work in 19 psychiatric hospitals. These volunteers will establish contact with people through regular visits offering support and empathy. Connections will be sustained as link workers will continue to offer support in the community.

For more information on MDF Cymru please visit: