“Finishing line in sight” for Jonathan Morgan’s mental health LCO

Jonathan Morgan’s mental health Legislative Competence Order (LCO), which will allow the Welsh Assembly Government to create its own law-making powers in relation to mental health assessment, treatment and advocacy, has taken another step towards receiving Royal Approval following a Senedd debate which took place on Wednesday.

Debating the issue, which received cross-party support, a series of AMs congratulated Mr Morgan on the work he has done on the LCO while also bemoaning how long it has taken for it to reach its final stretch (Mr Morgan began the process in October 2007).

Opening proceedings Mr Morgan described the debate as being an “historic event” but also acknowledged that “there are a few more hurdles to climb over yet”. Commenting on the need for more law-making powers in Wales the former Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services said: “For me, the most compelling piece of evidence for why reform is so long overdue came from a service user from Hafal, Lee McCabe. This is what he said in evidence to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in July: ‘From my time of being admitted into hospital, me and my family did not have any support when I was released a few weeks later and discharged. Neither me nor my family got any information on what I was diagnosed with, the medications I was taking, nothing at all. This resulted in a few weeks after being discharged I had a relapse and ended up going into the psychiatric ward where I ended up six months on the ward. I ended up being sectioned where I was getting frustrated with my condition. Most importantly, it resulted in the long-term where I made four suicide attempts. I was very fortunate then to have a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) who finally helped me and my family with information and support on the services that were available and helped me to learn to cope.'”

Mr Morgan informed Assembly Members that what changed for Lee was he had a CPN who carried out an assessment, who wrote a quality treatment and care plan and who ensured that it could be delivered. Mr Morgan said: “Someone should not need to be lucky to get the right professional to help them; they should have that right through a duty to provide assessment and advocacy. In that way people will not end up in higher levels of care and losing their employment simply because there is no duty on our mental health services to do what policy has already stated they should be doing. The draft LCO could be a watershed-not for devolution, but for those in Wales, such as Lee, who deserve better services that are responsive to their needs, and that offer an early assessment of those needs, individualised care and access to advocacy.”

Health and Social Services Minster Edwina Hart described the LCO debate as a “key milestone in the passage of the draft Order” and said that it “is fair to say the finishing line is very much in sight.”

At the end of the debate the motion was unanimously passed. The First Minister will now formally inform the Secretary of State for Wales that the Assembly has approved the LCO. Following debates in the House of Lords and Commons, Royal Approval is expected early in the New Year.

To read a transcript of Wednesday’s debate please visit: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-chamber/bus-chamber-third-assembly-rop.htm?act=dis&id=157038&ds=12/2009#6