Services for people with learning disabilities in Wales must not be absorbed into a national body for mental health, the Association for Real Change has said.
ARC has written to Welsh social services minister Edwina Hart saying a “fully integrated” mental health service would be detrimental to people with learning disabilities.
Chief executive of the learning disabilities umbrella organisation, James Churchill, warned that the proposals “virtually ignore” learning disability, and treat people as a “sub group” of those with mental health problems.
In its letter to Hart, the Association for Real Change said the body would bring in a “medical model” for people with learning disabilities – large numbers of whom did not have a mental health need.
“It seems positively perverse to us that all the gains which have been made in recent years in policy and practice terms in separating out the very distinct needs of people with learning disabilities from those who have mental health needs, can be so lightly thrown away,” Churchill, who is also acting manager of ARC Cymru said.
The proposal is being considered by Welsh Assembly following the recommendations of an expert report, by Professor Michael Williams, vice chair of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust. The report was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly following the launch of a consultation on the radical structural reform to the NHS in Wales.