Welsh Labour’s lacklustre response to improving mental healthcare in Wales.

The Welsh Labour Party once again displayed their poverty of ambition for Wales.

A debate was held in the Welsh Assembly this month on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats, following a unanimous decision by members at the Party’s Spring Conference, tabled the debate calling on the Welsh Government to take a number of key steps including:

• investigating waiting times between a child or young person’s first assessment with CAMHS and their subsequent service referral;
• routinely publishing readmission statistics;
• consistent and accurate reporting of inappropriate placements on adult mental health wards;
• considering the introduction of mental health education within the school curriculum; and
• introducing a national framework to ensure continuity of treatment in the transition between CAMHS and Adult Mental Health Services.

The Welsh Labour Government voted against all of these suggestions.

One in ten children and adolescents in Wales will experience a mental health issue, and waiting lists are too long, there is a lack of investment and focus on early intervention, too many young people are still inappropriately placed on adult mental health wards, safety checks are not common practice and many young people get lost in the transition between CAMHS and Adult Mental Health Services.

Nearly a decade ago the Children’s Commissioner warned that CAMHS provision was in ‘crisis across Wales’, and we’re still hearing those same concerns echoed by child health experts in 2014.

Figures compiled by the Welsh Liberal Democrats show that the number of vulnerable young people in Wales waiting more than 14 weeks to access child and adolescent psychiatric services has almost quadrupled, from 199 in January 2013 to 736 in January 2014.

Wales made a good start in being the first country in the UK to have a national strategy on CAMHS with the launch of ‘Everybody’s Business’ in 2001. There are examples of excellent practice across Wales, yet sadly despite action plans, frameworks and even the Mental Health (Wales) Measure, there remain significant concerns that can no longer be ignored.

Welsh Labour, when they voted against making improvements to mental health services in Wales, displayed their lack of ambition, displayed a willingness to play politics with people’s health, and shows how Labour continues to let the people of Wales down.

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