An influential group of MPs has rebuked the Welsh assembly for
its slow progress in improving mental health services.
The joint committee set up to scrutinise the draft Mental Health
Bill said services in Wales were so far behind England it was “very
unlikely” that it could be successfully introduced there.
The committee called for the assembly to increase the spend to
bring services up to standard.
The report found that plans to expand compulsory detention and
community treatment services by establishing mental health
tribunals would flounder in Wales because of the shortage of
psychiatrists and poor regulatory and service infrastructure.
It reiterated concerns that introducing the bill would divert
attention and resources away from the implementation of the care
programme approach initiative – a feature of the English system for
more than 10 years – and the Welsh assembly’s mental health
national service framework.
“The standard of mental health services in Wales must be at
least as good as it is now in England before the provisions in the
draft bill can be implemented,” the report said.
“Resources should be allocated in order to enable the service to
be brought up to the English standard. It seems very unlikely Wales
could successfully implement the provisions of the bill with the
resources currently available.”
Analysis by mental health charity Hafal shows spending on mental
health services in Wales will grow by 12.7 per cent over the next
three years while investment in other health and social care
services will increase by 19.4 per cent over that period.
Hafal deputy chief executive Alun Thomas said the assembly’s
approach in the framework to developing more community-based
services was the right one but more money was needed to ensure
people received services when they needed them.
“For too many people their first experience of mental health
services is in being compulsorily detained. We want people to be
seen by a consultant psychiatrist within two weeks of referral from
a GP,” he said.