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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 October 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Mental health services 'lacking'
Stressed worker (posed by model)
The pilot scheme aims to tackle the stigma of mental distress
Mental health organisations in Wales claim patients are not getting the services they need.

Mind Cymru, Depression Alliance Cymru, and Hafal, which help severely mentally ill people, said the quality of service can depend on where you live.

They claim some people wait so long for treatment that they go onto to commit crime.

Deputy Health Minister John Griffiths said the Welsh Assembly Government recognised improvements were needed.

An updated National Service Framework and action plan for mental health is being launched on Monday - World Mental Health Day.

Representatives of several organisations for the mentally ill told The Politics Show - shown on BBC Wales on Sunday - that services in Wales were simply not good enough.

They told how people could wait up to two years to see a consultant. They also claimed there was evidence of some getting into trouble with the police while waiting for treatment.

Mental health professionals said that having 44 separate commissioning bodies in Wales led to a "hit-and-miss" service with disparity in the quality of treatment.

Partnership

"I think it's poor because of the structures," said Claire Williams of Mind Cymru.

"Each different health area and local health board will have different computer systems and different personnel. The voluntary sector should be equal partners in the provision of mental health care and they are being marginalised."

Alun Thomas of Hafal said making people wait too long for treatment was counter-productive.

"We've had a number of documented cases of people waiting to see consultant psychiatrists who have had to wait so long that they've ended up being arrested because their behaviour has become so bizarre," he said.

"These people have ended up with a criminal record on top of a highly-stigmatising illness. These are people who, if treated appropriately, in time would still be with their families and moving forward in a very positive life.

"The shortage of acute mental health beds means that, quite often, people will not even be treated in Wales. The provision is such that we will have clients from Ceredigion being treated in Bristol because the beds are not available.

"This is because there is a very hit-and-miss approach."




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