Outside portraitThe Welsh Government has been accused of burying its head in the sand over serious concerns regarding Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services in Wales. This follows warnings that there has been little progress since a review in 2009 and young people continue to be put at risk with a failure to address significant safety issues.
In their debate this afternoon, Welsh Liberal Democrats will highlight the importance of early intervention to reduce waiting lists and are calling on the Welsh Government to take 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.
Figures compiled by the Welsh Liberal Democrats revealed 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.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"It's almost a decade on since the Children's Commissioner first warned that Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provision was in 'crisis across Wales', yet many child health experts assert that this is still the case today.
"One in ten children and adolescents will experience a mental health issue, yet there are still serious concerns over the provision of services in Wales. 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.
"In Wales we made a good start, 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.
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats want a constructive debate about how we can improve services in Wales, to ensure that young people receive the support they need. Sadly the Welsh Labour Government is determined to bury its head in the sand and ignore the catalogue of concerns and warnings that young people in Wales are being put at risk. This complacency is astounding and the Welsh Labour Government should hang its head in shame."