“A historic moment for service users in Wales’

Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart AM will introduce the Proposed Mental Health (Wales) Measure at the Senedd today.

The proposed Measure, which grants legislative competence in respect of mental health, follows on from Jonathan Morgan AM’s Mental Health Legislative Competence Order which was introduced in 2008. It deals with accessing and receiving care and treatment within primary and secondary mental health services and will apply to people receiving care and treatment within these services in Wales. It will also make provision for people receiving care and treatment in hospital so that they can access independent and specialist advocacy.

Commenting on the proposed Measure Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of the Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “The central value of the proposed Measure is that it provides people receiving secondary mental health services with a legal right to a care plan. Our clients know from experience that when a comprehensive care and treatment plan is in place there is a greatly improved prospect of recovery. We are delighted that the proposed Measure recognises the importance of care planning, and we hope that reference will be made to the Welsh Mental Health Act Code of Practice for Wales which provides an obvious legal precedent for which areas of life should be covered in a care plan.

“Though there is a great deal to commend in the proposed Measure we believe there is one issue that needs to be addressed: it is essential that there is a legally fixed timescale between initial referral by a GP and the creation of a care plan for those who are assessed as requiring secondary mental health services. Our Members are aware that it is vitally important to create a care plan as soon as possible to prevent patients from becoming even more unwell, and to move forward as positively and effectively at the earliest point.”

When he proposed the Mental Health Legislative Competence Order Jonathan Morgan AM said that the most convincing piece of evidence for why reform is so long overdue came from Hafal service user and now staff member Lee McCabe. Speaking about the proposed Measure Lee said: “This is a historic moment for service users in Wales which will be seen as a turning point in providing key rights to patients with serious mental illness.

“Anyone who has had a serious mental illness will welcome the day when service users have a legal right to a comprehensive care and treatment plan as this is such an important step towards recovery. Having a legal right to a care plan will prevent many people from becoming so unwell that they need to receive compulsory treatment, which is such a destructive and anti-therapeutic experience. But we will need to make sure that the regulations set out very clearly which areas the care and treatment plan covers to ensure it is as effective as possible.”

To read the proposed Measure go to: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-legislation/bus-leg-measures/business-legislation-measures-mhs-2.htm

To read Hafal’s detailed response to the proposed Measure please visit: www.hafal.org

To read a BBC Wales news story on the Proposed Measure please visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8580317.stm