Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler has called for the Proposed Mental Health (Wales) Measure to extend to under 18s.
Mr Towler’s request was made during an evidence- gathering session held by Legislation Committee No. 3 at the Senedd today.
As it stands the meaning of “relevant patient” within the Measure, which will provide new and historic law-making powers on mental health for Wales, is defined as an adult.
However when Cardiff North AM Jonathan Morgan proposed the Legislation Competence Order (LCO) which led to the Measure it was envisaged that provision would be “age blind” in order to ensure a seamless service that would end deficiencies in the existing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Mr Towler informed the committee: “I support the Measure but would like to see it extended to under 18s. Professionals in the field welcome this idea, I see no reason why it could not be the case.”
Mr Towler told the committee he was “looking for a rewrite” that ensures under 18s are fully included in the scope of the Measure. He added that: “Although the issues are quite complex I’ve yet to hear a counter argument that says we can’t surmount those issues.”
During the evidence Mr Towler expressed exasperation at the lack of progress made on children’s and young people’s services since the publication (in 2001) of the Welsh Assembly’s Strategy Document for CAMHs, Everybody’s Business.
He said: “At the moment nothing is making a difference for children and young people. I’ve spoken before about the need for people to focus their minds on what needs to be delivered, I think the way in which mental health services for children and young people are not being made available is just scandalous and we have to sort it out.
“The current failure of services is reason enough for young people to be included in the Measure, something’s got to happen, we’ve got to sort this out, frankly I’m fed up of talking about, we’ve got to get on with it!”
Mr Towler added: “It’s 10 years since ‘Everybody’s Business’, the National Service Framework is due for review and yet we still know that we have quite a big gap between what we all want to see happening for children in this area and what’s being delivered.
“The current Framework isn’t delivering, practitioners are as frustrated as we are that the Framework doesn’t deliver. The Measure affords an opportunity to provide a robust route so children’s and young people’s issues are addressed.
“If I was to tug at your emotional heartstrings I would say: ‘Don’t let the children down’. We need to make sure we get this right.”
For more information on the Children’s Commissioner for Wales please visit: http://www.childcom.org.uk/
For a transcript of today’s evidence please visit: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-committees/bus-committees-perm-leg/bus-committees-third-lc3-agendas.htm