Tuesday 3 April 2012

Falling Off A Cliff

Gwenda Thomas AM (left) flying the flag for Hafal

Very honest of Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services Gwenda Thomas AM to describe the transition from children's to adult services as "like falling off a cliff edge".

She was speaking last week (follow this link for more) about the potential impact of the Social Services (Wales) Bill on children and young people with a serious mental illness.

The Welsh Government asserts that the aim of the Bill is to give people who receive care a stronger voice and "real control" over the social care services they use. One of the biggest problems facing young people with a serious mental illness is the transition to adult mental health services.

The Deputy Minister said: "The Bill will provide freedom for people to maintain a level of continuity in their care when they move from location to location through the introduction of portable assessments. The Bill will also tackle the postcode lottery and improve consistency of services."

Meanwhile Dr Mike Shooter CBE, an old friend of Hafal and now Chair of Children in Wales, said: "I am optimistic. Wales was the first country in the UK to sign up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and we have a rights-based government. We were the first country in the UK to have a Children's Commissioner, a Children's Minister and a Standing Committee on children's issues. We are the first country in the UK to have counselling services in all our schools. And I'm sure we can get this Bill right for young people too. It's why I'm proud to have lived and worked here for most of my life."

Mike isn't wrong about this. Since Devolution there has been a refreshing willingness to embrace progressive policy and legislation in Wales and not just in children's services: you can look back at the Welsh Code of Practice for the Mental Health Act and, right up to date, the Mental Health Measure and its Regulations - all quite in contrast to England where mental health legislation has been grudging and over-cautious.

But the jury is still definitely still out. It's delivery, delivery, and delivery we need to see now.