Stakeholders’ health and social care priorities for the next Welsh Government (part 2)

3 December 2015

Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Mental health, carers, dementia and cancer

In the run up to the 2016 Assembly elections, stakeholders are producing manifestos and briefings, aiming to influence political party manifestos in Wales.

This is the second in a series of blog posts highlighting the key health and social care issues identified by stakeholders as priority actions for the next Welsh Government to undertake in the fifth Assembly term.

NB: Our first blog post covered NHS workforce, Health Impact Assessments, performance targets, and access to health professionals.

Mental Health

Gofal and the Mental Health Foundation’s joint manifesto Putting mental health on the agenda includes calls to:

  • Fully implement the Wales Psychological Therapies Plan for Adult Mental Health
  • Introduce waiting time measures for English and Welsh language psychological therapies across primary and secondary care. Record and publish patient outcome data in relation to psychological therapies
  • Train, develop and retain more staff capable of delivering a range of psychological therapies within a formal supervision structure
  • Increase the proportion of health funding spent on mental health for each year of the next Assembly term, and maintain the ring-fence on mental health funding throughout the next Assembly term
  • Improve access to high quality Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for those who require specialist treatment and support

Mind Cymru’s manifesto identifies similar priorities:

  • Improve the level of mental health support available for parents, children and young people.
  • Mandate that NHS Wales offer a full range of evidence based psychological therapies to everyone who needs them within 28 days of requesting a referral
  • Increase the level of funding for mental health services by at least 2 per cent in real terms each year for the next five years
  • Commit to ensuring everybody has safe and speedy access to quality crisis care 24 hours a day, seven days a week

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ manifesto (PDF, 120KB) also calls for improvements to CAMHS:

All political parties should commit to implementing the Together for Children and Young People programme for children and young people’s mental health and well-being and ensure adequate funding of services. There is a need for additional, evidence-based preventative and primary community mental health services in order to reduce demand on clinical services, which should be quickly available for those who require them.

Samaritans in Wales focuses on reducing suicide in its manifesto, Four steps to save lives.

Meanwhile the National Autistic Society (NAS) Cymru is continuing its campaign for an Autism Act in the next Assembly term. It believes new statutory duties are needed to ensure every council provides the necessary support across Wales (see our previous blog post for more information.

Carers and dementia support

Carers Trust Wales is calling for the introduction of a Carer Well-being Fund to provide additional breaks for carers across Wales, coordinated by the third sector delivered in partnership with local authorities and local health boards. It says that a fund of approximately £1.4million a year would generate over 53,000 hours of additional breaks for carers in Wales.

Carers Trust Wales is also calling for better support for carers of people with dementia and a national approach to involving carers in the dementia treatment including through:

  • Training health staff to identify, support and involve carers of people with dementia
  • Allowing carers the right to access wards, to participate in treatment decisions, and to stay with those that they care for in hospital.

Alzheimer’s Society’s recent report Diagnose or disempower? calls for a commitment to an appropriately resourced national dementia strategy. It also wants all local health boards to set targets to improve diagnosis rates by a minimum of 5% per year until they achieve a diagnosis rate of 75%.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales similarly calls for the next Welsh Government to improve diagnosis rates for dementia, and to support the creation of dementia friendly communities across Wales. She wants to see a commitment for all public service staff to be trained to be dementia aware, with more comprehensive training delivered to those working directly with people living with dementia.

Cancer

Macmillan’s manifesto calls include:

  • Cancer remaining a top priority in the next Programme of Government, leading to a new cancer strategy for Wales
  • Ensure everyone who is given a cancer diagnosis is assigned and has access to a specialist cancer nurse who is also their key worker whilst in the acute stages of treatment
  • Every person with cancer should have a holistic needs assessment, and a written care plan setting out the agreed outcomes and the actions
  • Ensure that each person diagnosed with cancer receives timely information and support to help them understand their cancer and make informed decisions about their treatment and care

Access to information is a key theme in the Let’s Talk Cancer report which was a partnership project by the Institute of Welsh Affairs, Tenovus Cancer Care and the Jane Hodge Foundation.

The Wales Cancer Alliance’s manifesto (PDF, 427KB) calls for:

  • Full implementation of the Cancer Delivery Plan
  • More consistency in service delivery – the Alliance says more needs to be done to ensure that service delivery is driven by robust evidence and data; and existing data should be used to identify where there are gaps and improvements required
  • ‘Close the gap between the best and the rest’ – the Alliance wants to see a reduction in the variation of cancer incidence and outcomes across Wales by 2021, the end of the next Assembly term

Our final blog post in this series will look at calls around preventative services, access to independent advocacy, social care, and human rights.

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