Tuesday 2 August 2011

Minister Takes The Wheel

Health and Social Services Minister Lesley Griffiths took the wheel on Saturday while visiting our stand at the National Eisteddfod. Hafal Chair Elin Jones and North Wales employment lead Janet Randles explained the purpose of our joint campaign (link here) with the Mental Health Foundation and MDF the Bipolar Organisation Cymru which supports patients to...

• Take the driving seat in managing their own recovery from mental illness

• Make use of their new rights under the Mental Health Measure

• Make choices about the care and treatment they receive – and who provides them

• Develop and manage services themselves

• Engage with the providers of mental health services so that they can get more involved in planning and commissioning those services

The Minister is getting increasingly familiar with us having attended the launch of the Safeguarding DVD the day before (see two posts back) and we are expecting to see her again at the Eisteddfod wearing her hat as the local AM. I'll pick up on the messages we are conveying to her - and to the Welsh Government generally - later in the week.

Meanwhile I attended the Eisteddfod on Monday and it is certainly in a pleasant setting, unlike last year when the Maes sat uncomfortably in a dusty shambles of industrial scrap. The traditional Eisteddfod soaking came of course and momentarily knocked out our leccie but this was swiftly restored and the simulator swung back into action.

My tour of the Maes yielded some useful reacquaintances plus two sturdy jute "bags for life" from the Welsh Government stand - evidently they have a guilty concience about their new plastic bag tax so they are giving these away to save you paying the tax.

Actually I am not hostile to the bag tax because unlike most of those pesky environmentalists' annoying ideas at least it won't punish poor people or stop us enjoying ourselves. It should in fact marginally reduce the cost of our shopping (so long as you bring your own bag along of course) because Tesco's and co won't have to supply as many bags.

As a bonus inside each bag I find a pedometer also with the Government's logo - so there's an almost useful public health message too about taking more exercise (see my encomium on these ingenious machines here).

As a loyal citizen of the new Wales I look forward to stepping out with my (Welsh) Government-issue, environmentally-friendly shopping bag, measuring my 10,000 steps on my Government-issue pedometer and thereby reducing my call on the Government-issue free prescriptions, though through greater longevity possibly increasing my future call on a Government-issue free bus pass. How did we ever manage before devolution?


In case you think I sound unsympathetic towards environmental matters please be assured that Hafal has a brilliant "Green Plan" specifying how we will save the planet. I look forward to reciprocation by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth who I trust are putting the finishing touches to their comprehensive mental health action plans.