AMs approve Proposed Mental Health (Wales) Measure

New Welsh mental health laws were passed on Tuesday when Assembly Members approved the Proposed Mental Health (Wales) Measure.

Commenting on the significance of this historic legislation, which stems from a Legislative Competence Order introduced by former Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan AM in 2008, Health and Social Services Minister Edwina Hart AM said during a debate held in the Senedd on Tuesday: “This Measure is a significant piece of legislation which will introduce a sea change in the way mental health services are accessed and delivered.”

Ms Hart said the Measure will lead to improvements in the timeliness and availability of services for those individuals experiencing mental health problems in Wales and added that: “We hope in the long term it may lead to a reduction in the number of individuals requiring specialist or inpatient services or potentially detention under the Mental Health Act.”

Yesterday’s debate in the Senedd featured a discussion on the most important issue for many service users in Wales: the right to a comprehensive care plan for all people receiving secondary mental health services.

Ahead of the debate service users wanted AMs to seek an assurance from Edwina Hart that regulations will prescribe that care plans must be comprehensive and cover all the significant areas of people’s lives, namely: physical health, medication and other treatment, money, social life, accommodation, training and education, employment and caring and parenting relationships.

On this issue the Minister said: “I believe that it is appropriate and necessary for full assessments to be undertaken by practitioners and that such assessments should consider at least these eight areas…it is right that care co-ordinators consider these areas when working with the service user and service providers to develop and agree outcomes for the provision of services.”

Responding to the Minister’s comments Sue Barnes, National Service User Champion of the Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “Assembly Members’ approval of the Measure is great news, it’s a historic moment for people with a mental illness and their carers in Wales.

“However, before yesterday’s debate patients and carers told me that the main outcome they want from the Measure and regulations is the right to a comprehensive care plan for all people receiving secondary mental health services. If we do get a proper care plan we will have a transforming Measure which will put Wales ahead of other countries in the United Kingdom and beyond. It’s crucial that when the Measure’s regulations are drawn up they include a legal right to comprehensive care planning.”

The last word in yesterday’s debate was given to Jonathan Morgan.

He said: “This legislation, the culmination of more than three years’ hard work, gives new opportunities to patients, a new emphasis on statutory bodies to work together and it gives those people in Wales who live with the consequence of mental ill health the certainty of our commitment.”

The Measure will now be sent to the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Wales. It is expected to gain Royal Approval in December.

Click here to read a transcript of Tuesday’s discussion of the Measure at the National Assembly.

Click here to view an ITV Wales interview with Hafal’s Expert Patient Trainer Dave Smith about the Measure.