Friday 13 July 2012

The Real Killer Facts

A warm welcome was given to Minister of Health and Social Services Lesley Griffiths AM when she visited Hafal in Wrexham this morning. She is of course the local Assembly Member but was attending in her ministerial capacity so this was a really good opportunity for our Members and clients to get across their views about mental health services in Wales - and sure enough they did just that in a constructive and positive discussion. Hafal has several trained Expert Patients among our Members in Wrexham so we knew they would give a good account of themselves.

Lesley heard service users express how they have benefited from the Agored (Open College) courses running in the project. She also gained an insight into serious mental illness by listening to service users talk about their experiences. Service users spoke to the Minister about how meaningful service user involvement can benefit the development of mental health services and they discussed their work with the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales promoting an audit system for social care.

Hafal Community Link Worker Denise Charles said: "The Minister has been very supportive of Hafal’s work. She spoke at our World Mental Health Day celebrations at the Senedd last autumn and in June this year she launched a new guide Care and Treatment Planning: a step-by-step guide for secondary mental health service users - which was produced by Hafal in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation and Bipolar UK. The guide is designed to help service users get the most out of the new Care and Treatment Plans which were introduced, as part of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure, on June 6th. The Minister has visited the Link Service in Wrexham previously it was great to welcome her back today."

Meanwhile the Minister may have been somewhat preoccupied - but didn't show it - with the vote of confidence (see the BBC story here) but as privileged readers of this Blog you will recollect that the political difficulties of hospital reorganisation were presciently covered here before this latest hoo-ha - see this post (last two paragraphs).

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the "killer facts" emails we should support any Government which finally addresses the massive elephant in the room of the Welsh NHS which has been trampling around unchallenged ever since devolution - WE CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO CLOSE OR DOWNGRADE HOSPITALS AND TO CENTRALISE NHS SERVICES - those are the real killer facts.

You may ask "What's this got to do with mental health?" but the truth is that all NHS provision will be relentlessly squeezed, important services will close, and the quality of treatment and care will deteriorate until this nettle is grasped (or should I say, in order to avoid mixed metaphors, "until the elephant is shot"?).

This is also why the Government's ring fence around NHS funding for mental health services, crude though it may be as an instrument of policy, may prove more important than the new mental health Strategy - because another real killer fact is that nothing will be achieved in mental health if its resources are syphoned off to preserve in perpetuity all-singing and all-dancing (but hugely inefficient) local general hospitals.