Wednesday 11 July 2012

Support the Panel!

To Cardiff this morning to see the Minister of Health, Lesley Griffiths AM, along with voluntary sector colleagues.

We raise four points in a very short meeting, all concerning the new mental health Strategy currently out for consultation: the need for measurable outcomes based on clinical and holistic assessments plus patients' own reported experience; the necessity for a change in the ethos and approach of staff of mental health and wider services; the economic case for investing in mental health services, for example through improving the speed and success of recovery for patients; and the need for a robust national steering group to oversee implementation.

The jury is out on whether the new Strategy will make a difference. Much will depend on the accompanying "Delivery Plan" which should set out what mental health and other services will actually have to do. It is a fair assumption that it is this Plan which hard-nosed managers will reach for in the future, not the Strategy itself, when they want to check that they are safe in their jobs.

The law, specifically Part 2 of the Mental Health Measure and its Regulations and Code of Practice, provides a solid platform for the development of improved services. The Delivery Plan will have to go beyond that baseline to make a real difference, spelling out what patients and families can insist upon in terms of care, treatment, and support over and above the legal requirements. We shall see.

The Minister is visiting Hafal on Friday in Wrexham and I'm quite sure our members and clients there, who also know her well in her capacity as the local AM, will articulate their expectations more clearly than I ever could.

To see the well-argued response to the draft Strategy of the user and carer Panel supported by Hafal and our colleagues in the Mental Health Foundation and Bipolar UK please follow this link: you can also see how you can support the Panel by writing to the Government.