Edwina Hart outlines mental health spending plans

Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart has outlined her mental health service spending for the next two years.

Hart’s announcement follows last week’s draft budget which saw the announcement of increased funding for health and social services as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s One Wales commitments.

Mental health services will see £16.1m invested in 2009-10 (compared to £14.7m in 2008-09) with this figure rising to £19.2m in 2010-11.

Hart has also promised an extra £117m for the NHS to help bring down waiting times down to 26 weeks.

Increased spending on neonatal care and eating disorder services were also highlighted.

Hart’s announcement came in the middle of what has been an extraordinarily busy month in the world of mental health.

On World Mental Health Day (October 10th) the Welsh Assembly Government published a new guide to encourage mental health service users and their carers to have a greater role in the planning, development and delivery of mental health services.

Two days before that a unique photographic exhibition by Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with severe mental illness and their carers, was held at the Senedd.

The charity’s “Have You Clicked?” campaign , which aimed to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, featured some wonderful photographs by service users, carers and members of the public.

This momentous month also sees the publication of one of the most long-awaited documents in the history of mental health care in Wales.

The aim of the Mental Health Act Code of Practice is to ensure that mental health services in Wales will be of the highest quality.

The Code has been welcomed by service users and their carers for its comprehensive chapter on care planning.

In drawing up the Code – which effectively determines how the revised Mental Health Act is implemented in Wales – the Welsh Assembly Government consulted widely.

One of the most influential contributors during the consultation phase was Jo Roberts, a service user of Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with severe mental illness.

Last year Jo created a web log designed to canvas opinion on the draft Code of Practice from service users and carers across the country.

The feedback Jo received was extraordinary.

She said: “The responses I had came in from every county in Wales which was amazing.

“The good news is the people writing the Code have heeded the Blog and incorporated key recommendations on care planning.”

The Code will give service users who are subject to the Mental Health Act the right to an holistic care plan.

Further key issues such as a suggested reordering of the Guiding Principles; a more positive approach to hospital visits by family and friends; and a greater emphasis on involving patients and carers in decisions about treatment have all been incorporated too.

During the consultation phase Hafal Chief Executive Bill Walden-Jones worked closely with Jo on her blog indeed Hafal substantially based its response to the consultation on the comments Jo received from patients and carers.

Mr Walden-Jones said: “Hafal has consistently campaigned for effective care and treatment planning to be both the fundamental foundation for effective service delivery and the most important focus for user involvement.

“The Code of Practice now puts a duty on service providers to ensure this is the case.

“The Assembly Government is to be given credit for achieving this important step forward in delivering an effective service to patients in Wales who are subject to the Mental Health Act.”

To read more about the Welsh Assembly’s Guide, which was published on World Mental Health Day, please visit: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/newsitem.cfm?contentid=10762