Mental health services in Wales could become the responsibility of a single statutory body following the release of a report commissioned by the Welsh assembly government.
Health and social services minister Edwina Hart said that she was considering the recommendation to establish a “fully integrated mental health service in Wales”, which would both plan and provide services.
The body would take over the mental health commissioning responsibilities of the 22 local health boards and local authorities, and also provide hospital and community-based services. The report, authored by Professor Michael Williams, vice chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust, said existing commissioning practice was “fragmented, confused and inadequate”.
Service could be established within year
Williams, whose report was drawn up in consultation with charities Hafal and Mind Cymru, said: “With goodwill and co-operation a new service could be established within a year without reducing the service being provided. The government’s leadership in this process is crucial. There has to be clear guidance as to the transfer and development of the services and estates relating to mental health services on general NHS Trust sites.”
The report follows the launch of a consultation on radical structural reform to the NHS in Wales, which would see the abolition of the internal market in services and slash the number of health boards from 22 to eight.
Hart said that that debate over mental health reform would need to take account of the NHS structural changes.