Fears over new services in Wales

A 5m Welsh assembly government fund set up to develop new mental health services will be used instead to plug holes in existing services, campaigners fear.

Some local health boards and councils, such as Bridgend, want to use the money to develop crisis resolution services and community mental health teams.

But mental health charities say these have already been funded in 2004-5 budgets and covered extensively by funding for the mental health national service framework.

Assembly guidance states that the annual fund, due to start in April, should be used to develop “additional improvements in mental health services over and above what is expected in meeting existing targets”.

Alun Thomas, deputy chief executive of mental health charity Hafal, said it had lobbied LHBs and authorities to use the money to set up round-the-clock community-based resource centres, housing support for high-dependency clients and psychiatric therapy for those in hospital, but with little success.

“They said they’d decided to invest the money in existing services, but everything in the NSF should have already been funded. There doesn’t appear to be that many new services [out of this],” Thomas added.

A Welsh assembly government spokesperson confirmed that LHB and council bids for the money had to show “additionality” and make savings that could be reinvested in mental health services.

“In some cases it has been necessary to seek some additional clarification before approval can be given. We will be monitoring to ensure the money will be spent in accordance with the proposals,” she added.

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