Welsh service users tell MPs that draft bill is ‘unworkable’

The draft Mental Health Bill is “unworkable” in Wales because
services are not equipped to deliver it, Welsh service users have

Giving evidence to MPs last week, service user-led group Hafal said
Welsh services “lacked the infrastructure” to support the bill.

Vicky Yeates, a carer and member of Hafal, told the parliamentary
joint committee on the bill, that there was no clear timetable for
implementing the NSF, leaving Wales falling behind England.

Hafal also raised concerns over workforce problems including an
“acute shortage” of psychiatrists in Wales. The increase in
tribunals under the bill would divert “already scant resources”
away from health services to the management of the legal

“This in turn would mean more people deteriorating to the point
where compulsion was necessary,” Hafal told MPs.

Yeates added: “Our priority should be improving health services,
not keeping the Home Office happy.”

Director of Mind Cymru Lindsay Foyster said the government had
based the legislation on the false assumption that there was good
policy and practice already in Wales.

She said the NSF should be on a “firmer footing” before the bill
became law, and highlighted the “embryonic” implementation of the
care programme approach.

Research recently submitted by Mind to the Welsh assembly found 80
out of 84 of service users interviewed still had little or no
involvement in care plans.

Foyster said: “Although the care programme approach is being
developed there is still no real power for service users.”

Mind and Hafal also expressed concerns about the difficulty of
implementing the bill in Welsh rural communities.

Families and advocates would have to travel long distances to
tribunals and community treatment orders would have limited impact
due to poor access to services, Mind said.

“We are worried that lack of readily accessible support could lead
to a greater likelihood of those on treatment orders being given
medication through lack of choice,” Foyster added.

Mind Cymru are to make further submissions on their concerns to the
joint committee this week.

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