Welsh NHS trusts ‘failing patients’

Mental health charities in Wales fear some NHS bodies will struggle to meet new targets to improve the treatment of mental health patients in hospital and the community.

Service and financial framework targets for 2006-7, recently published by the Welsh assembly government, call for local health boards and hospital trusts to reduce the number of mental health patients treated in hospital inappropriately, improve access to treatment for the most severely ill, and speed up routine assessment and intervention for children.

But Mind Cymru believes the lack of community facilities will make it difficult for some hospitals and LHBs to reduce the number of delayed discharges of mental health patients treated in hospital, and the length of time they are delayed.

Victorian-era mental health hospitals still treat many patients, although the assembly has promised to close them. This has led to severe delayed discharge problems, particularly in Cardiff, where patients are delayed for an average of 426 days.

Mind Cymru director Lindsay Foyster said: “They are struggling now so the problem is only going to be compounded when hospital closures start – you can only reconfigure services if you have the capacity in the community.”

Foyster said mental health had been “sidelined” by the NHS and that services should be commissioned by a separate body, a proposal currently being considered by the assembly government.

More information available from www.wales.gov.uk

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