An event to mark the Royal Approval of Cardiff North AM Jonathan Morgan’s Mental Health Legislative Competence Order (LCO) has been held at Hafal’s National Resource Centre at St Fagans.
The LCO was proposed by Mr Morgan in October 2007 following calls from service users for an improved mental health service in Wales. On Wednesday the National Assembly for Wales was granted the power to create an Assembly Measure (or ‘Welsh Law’) dealing with assessment, treatment and advocacy in mental health.
Service users in Wales are now calling for the new Measure to provide three key rights:
1. A right to timely assessment:
If a GP believes a patient may have a serious mental illness and refers them for assessment, the patient should have a legal right to be assessed by a specialist team within a set period.
2. A right to a holistic care plan:
If during the assessment it is decided that the patient needs secondary mental health services then they should have a legal right to a holistic care plan – which is agreed with them – covering all necessary areas. There is an obvious legal precedent for which areas of life should be covered in a care plan in the Welsh Mental Health Act Code of Practice for Wales (these are not specified in the English Code of Practice).
3. A right to advocacy:
Advocacy should be provided not only to those subject to the Mental Health Act, but to all those in hospital by reason of their serious mental illness.
When he proposed the Mental Health LCO Mr Morgan said that the most convincing piece of evidence for why reform is so long overdue came from Hafal service user Lee McCabe. Speaking about the LCO Lee said: “Having given evidence to the committees considering the LCO I am pleased to see it finally get Royal Approval. I hope the new laws will mean that people with a serious mental illness can look forward to an improved, fairer service with more emphasis on care planning.”
Speaking about the importance of care planning Rebecca Bond, a service user attending the event in St Fagans on Thursday, said: “Care plans are so important. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 14, but I didn’t get a care plan until I was 17. If I’d been given a care plan earlier it could have prevented the ups and downs I went through in those first years.”
Lee added: “Not everyone with a serious mental illness is lucky enough to have a care plan, but I know from experience that this is the essential tool that service users need to move forward with their recovery. We need a legal right to a comprehensive care plan. Giving service users this right will put Wales ahead in the UK.”
To view a Senedd TV interview of Jonathan Morgan speaking about Royal Approval of the LCO please visit: http://www.senedd.tv/archiveplayer.jsf?v=en_900002_11_02_2010&t=0
(Left to right) Hafal Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas, Cardiff North AM Jonathan Morgan and Hafal Service User Lee McCabe pictured at the LCO launch on Thursday.