Children’s Commissioner for Wales: “We still have a way to go”

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In his fourth annual report Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler has said that although there has been progress in the provision of mental health services for young people in Wales during the last year “we still have a long way to go before all young people across Wales can confidently expect to receive appropriate treatment in a timely manner as close to their homes as possible.”

In his report the Commissioner said:

• “In relation to the Mental Health (Wales) Measure there is a question of the ability of children and young people to access services via routes other than GPs (perhaps via school counselling services) which needs addressing in rolling out the legislation.”

• He “welcomed the growing priority given to CAMHS and the fact that the recommendations of the Wales Audit Office and Health Inspectorate Wales’ report Services for Children and young people with emotional and mental health needs are included within the action plan ‘Breaking the Barriers’.”

• “This Measure has the potential to contribute much to the delivery of CAMHS strategy in Wales. There is a need, however, to ensure a coordinated approach between the delivery model which relates to the Measure, the Welsh Government’s Delivery Assurance Group tasked with driving forward the national action plan for CAMHS (Breaking the Barriers) and the National Expert Reference Group for CAMHS. Only if this happens can we progress and implement the principles outlined within Everyone’s Business.”

• He “welcomed the additional funding of £1.7million that has been allocated to support the provision of CAMHS services to children and young people with learning disabilities.”

• He also “welcomed the opening of the inpatient CAMHS unit in North Wales and the near completion of the new unit in South Wales.” However he added: “I have been made aware by my Investigation and Advice Officers that we have dealt with cases where children are still being admitted to adult wards and where the South Wales unit has been closed to new admissions on occasions.”

The Commissioner concluded his views on mental health services by writing: “I am pleased with much of what I have seen this year but I continue to monitor developments and progress with great interest.

“I would expect the Minister to require the CAMHS delivery assurance group to provide clear advice and guidance to her in relation to the effectiveness of local health boards’ CAMHS action plans.”

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