Thursday 24 January 2013


My "small breakfast" at the excellent Coffee Corner in Colwyn Bay high street this morning, a welcome change from the relentless 200 calorie limit strictly enforced at Blog Towers

I am in the midst of a UK-wide motor tour seeing at first hand the apocalyptic band of unprecedented weather which has invested the country (or, alternatively, a flurry of snow quite unremarkable for the time of year).

On Tuesday I rolled into London to give evidence to an enquiry into the future of mental health services organised by our friends in the Mental Health Foundation. We are invited to imagine how services might look in up to thirty years time - a useful exercise because it makes you think beyond immediate concerns like reform of benefits and the implementation of the new mental health law in Wales, very important though those things obviously are right now.

I find myself sounding quite pessimistic about Wales, making the point that sound legislation and decent-enough policy won't alone lead to excellent services. The focus has moved towards looking at the "culture" of the workforce. Logical I suppose but why should we believe that the culture will change while the service-providers still call the shots in our "take-it-or-leave-it", top-down system?

I don't doubt that mental health professionals in Wales are as decent and well-intentioned as any but the only way to ensure a respectful, listening, and therapeutic service is to allow patients and their families to choose the services they want and to choose who delivers those services. That way you don't have to rely on good will from professionals with monopoly control of what is available, an arrangement which inevitably leads to taking the patient for granted.

Yesterday I drove up from London to our North Wales HQ in Colwyn Bay. This meant motorway (or dual carriage-way equivalent) all the way so no problem with the snow but amazing scenery. Today I've been static, attending our quarterly North Wales meeting for more senior staff and local Trustees, but tomorrow I'm heading to Caernarfon to meet carers and then face the prospect of tacking down south via Dolgellau and Aber - fingers crossed that the roads are clear.


A good day to ask Deputy Chief Exec of Hafal (and full colonel in the "Jack Army") Alun Thomas for a pay rise following Swansea City's draw (and therefore win on aggregate) against Chelsea in the League Cup Semi. Congratulations on a sterling performance by all twelve of them (I include of course the ball boy - see the story here).