‘Crisis’ hits mental health services for children in Wales

Mental health services for children and young people in Wales
are in crisis, according to Welsh children’s commissioner
Peter Clarke, writes Alex Dobson.

In his annual report, the commissioner describes a number of
crucial failings in services, which include, no children’s
inpatient beds in Wales, no adolescent forensic service, as well as
virtually no service for children with learning disabilities, and
no emergency adolescent beds. 

There are a lower number of adolescent inpatient beds per head
of population in Wales than anywhere else in the UK.

Clarke said publication of ‘Everybody’s Business’  in 2001
– the all-Wales strategy for child and adolescent mental health
services, was welcomed by many practitioners and commentators. But
he warned that although the strategy was bold, imaginative and
child centred, no funding, had been identified and ringfenced to
implement the strategy by the Welsh Assembly, which commissioned
the report.

“The consequences are all too clear. I have been
approached directly by professionals and their associations, and by
individuals acting on behalf of young people.

“Their message is the same: they speak of a service in crisis,
with poor and patchy provision, and a worrying drain of skilled and
professional workers. Those remaining talk of low morale,” he

The commissioner warns that because there are no emergency
adolescent beds in Wales some young people are admitted to adult
psychiatric wards. He describes the plight of Welsh children being
placed hundreds of miles away from their families and their
country, as “wholly unacceptable”.

Clarke said that his office were aware of consultants with
waiting lists of well over 12 months, and of significant staff
vacancies in psychiatric and psychological services.

“The lack of appropriate and timely help to young people
with mental health problems can blight their entire lives,”
he said.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly said the
commissioner’s report would be debated on Wednesday 5

Full copy of the report

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