A NEW agreement to improve the system of care and support for people in a mental health crisis has been signed by the Welsh Government, police forces, the NHS, councils and other agencies. The crisis care concordat commits the organisations which have signed up to work together to intervene early and, if possible, to reduce the likelihood of people posing a risk to themselves or others as a result of a mental health condition. A key part of this approach are new proposals to reduce the use of police custody for people suffering with mental health problems. People with suspected mental health issues who are detained under the Mental Health Act should be assessed within three hours and not be held in police custody for more than 12 hours.
All organisations which sign the concordat have made a commitment to find the most appropriate support needed for people in whatever situation and whichever service a person turns to, making sure that any intervention is carried out without any unnecessary or inappropriate placement; for example within police custody. Other commitments include: People under 18 who experience a mental health crisis should never be held in police custody unless in exceptional circumstances; Police vehicles will rarely be used to convey people in crisis, except the most violent of individuals and only in exceptional cases to transport people between NHS facilities; NHS transport or other health vehicles, but not necessarily an ambulance, should be commissioned to take people in a mental health crisis to hospital; If a young person under 18 is detained under section 135 or 136 of the Mental Health Act and taken to a police station for assessment, a case review will be held within seven days to determine whether this could have been avoided in order to learn from that incident; Monitoring groups within health boards will review every section 135 and 136 detention within police custody to determine its appropriateness.
Health and Social Services Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “This new agreement is about providing the most appropriate care and support to those facing a mental health crisis, whatever the time, every day of the year. “It is about all those who have signed up working closely together so we avoid people being wrongly kept in a police cell and instead being given access to the right treatment for them. I am delighted this deal has brought together so many organisations that have a vital role to play.” Jon Stratford, assistant chief constable, South Wales Police said: “Too many people end up in police cells when detained for their own or others’ safety under the Mental Health Act instead of receiving appropriate support and help. We welcome the development of the crisis care concordat. “The signing of today’s agreement is an important step in improving how all agencies work together to protect vulnerable people.” Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru and chair of the Wales Alliance on Mental Health, said: “When you are in crisis you are at your most vulnerable. You may be experiencing delusions or hallucinations, you might be suicidal or self-harming, it can be very frightening – you need the right help urgently.
“A police cell is a completely inappropriate environment in which to receive that care and support. Mind has been campaigning for action on reducing the use of police cells for people in crisis for many years. Bringing together so many agencies including the police, the NHS and the third sector is a great achievement and shows how determined we are to create change. “This is a crucial first step. There’s a lot more to do to make sure that anyone experiencing a mental health crisis gets the right care. We need to make sure that mental health services can cope with demand and get people the help they need early on to prevent them reaching crisis point in the first place. Great crisis care exists but we need to make sure it exists for anyone in Wales who needs it.” Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon said: “I welcome this Concordat. “I raised this issue with Welsh Government two years ago and I’m glad that Dyfed-Powys Police and Hywel Dda University Health Board have led the way.”
Explaining how Dyfed Powys Police had taken steps to anticipate the Concordat, Mr Salmon continued: “I’m delighted that – a year after we launched our Street Triage scheme to help those in mental distress during police incidents – the Concordat will recognise the importance of treating mental illness as a health issue, not a police one. “The work of all those involved in delivering our local service is to be applauded; a huge amount of effort and expertise has resulted in a great new project.” Mr Salmon concluded: “In the past, many people have been locked in police cells when what they’ve really needed is health treatment. Across the Hywel Dda area – Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire – they now get that treatment. “The Concordat has been a long time coming but will put clear responsibility on health services to treat mental health cases. The police will be there to help, not the other way round. It’s a great example of work between the police and the health board.”
No action at Cardiff Airport over virus
THERE were no checks or screening at Cardiff airport this morning (Jan 23) as international concern continues to grow about the coronavirus which has killed 17 people and infected hundreds in a central Chinese city.
A Herald journalist landing at 5:30am on a flight from Doha, said that passengers arriving from China or other Southeast Asian were not questioned or screened, despite other airports including Heathrow taking action.
The twice daily Doha flight, which was launched with the help of the Welsh Government two years ago, connects travellers from many destinations from South East Asia, including from China. A connection between Beijing and Cardiff is offered with a 10 hour stop over at Hamad International Airport in Qatar.
The outbreak of the virus is centred on the city of Wuhan. Travellers from Wuhan change at Beijing. At this time of year there is an increased number of travellers between China and the UK due to the Chinese New Year celebrations’
The Guardian reported today (Jan 23) that a sense of panic has spread in the central Chinese city of Wuhan as the city of 11 million was put on lockdown in an attempt to quarantine a deadly virus believed to have originated there.
Today, Chinese authorities banned all transport links from the sprawling city, suspending buses, the subway system, ferries and shutting the airport and train stations to outgoing passengers.
Nearby Huanggang also suspended its public bus and railway system by the end of the day.
In Wuhan, it has been reported that supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.
The incubation period for the virus is said to be five days according to experts.
The Welsh Government has been asked for a comment.
Spencer Birns, Chief Commercial Officer at Cardiff Airport, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Cardiff Airport is closely following guidance provided by the relevant authorities in relation to screening procedures for Coronavirus. Port Health advice as of 1200 on 23rd January 2020 is to operate business as usual, with no additional screening. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will update our customers as required.
“The safety and security of our team and customers is our number one priority.”
A spokesperson told The Herald that Chinese nationals arriving in Cardiff on international flights are not being asked if they originated in Wuhan despite the crisis.
“We have not been told to do different to normal,” the spokesperson said.
Pictured above: Regular flights: Qatar Airways plane at Cardiff Airport this morning • Peter Sinclair from Milford Haven lives in China and taking precautions
Llanelli MP & AM call for school transport solutions
Llanelli’s MP and AM joined Tumble residents on Friday (15.01.20) to walk along the unlit path that children have been forced to take since a bus service to Maes y Gwendraeth school was scrapped.
A number of school bus routes in Carmarthenshire have been cancelled in response to UK Government legislation which has restricted the types of vehicles that bus companies can use. This has left many children who relied on these services with no safe way to get to school.
Nia Griffith MP and Lee Waters AM are working with local residents and councillors, like Dot Jones in Tumble, to find solutions that can be implemented by the County Council or UK Government.
Lee Waters AM said, “After carrying the bags and instruments of a Tumble pupil three miles to school on Friday morning it’s clear we need to get these services running again. I’ve been working with the Council and Welsh Government to try and find a common sense resolution to the problem of cancelled school buses right across Llanelli.
“It’s a complicated situation, and unfortunately the Welsh Government’s powers are limited, but we may have found a way forward if the UK Government are willing to be flexible. The Welsh Government has written to ask them to exempt school transport in Carmarthenshire from the new regulations which would allow the local services to resume.”
In addition to commercial school bus routes, there is also a scheme for pupils to access spare places on the coaches that pick up children who live further away from school for a small fare. However, local parents have raised concerns about the availability of this scheme and the process by which places are allocated.
Nia Griffith MP said, “We must work together to find ways to restore bus transport as soon as possible, even if the situation is complex.
“I understand the County Council will now review the scheme which lets pupils use spare places on existing school buses, but this needs to be done as quickly and effectively as possible to ensure the maximum number of pupils benefit.
“It is crazy to have buses with spare capacity passing the bus stop and leaving pupils to walk. But we need transport back for all pupils who have lost it.”
Cllr Rob James, who joined the walk to Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth on Friday, said: “The bus services that have been withdrawn are vital services to many of our communities and must be retained.
“The local ward Councillors and I are thrilled with the support we are getting from the local MP and AM to solve these issues and we hope that there can be a resolution shortly.”
‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!
A new project has been launched which is completely free for young people from across the Llanelli area.
‘Premier League Kicks’ run by Swansea City Community Trust started last Tuesday (14th January) and is already proving to be a success with both children and their parents.
Boys and Girls of all abilities are welcome to take part with sessions taking place on the brand new 3G pitch at Ysgol PenRhos.
Ages 8-12 take place on every Tuesday evening between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with ages 13-16 on every Wednesday between 8.00 and 9.00pm.
As well as the football sessions, activities will also include informative, educational workshops covering a wide range of issues including knife crime, county lines and online safety.
Craig Richards from the Swans Community Trust said:
“Nationally, ‘Premier League Kicks’ is one of the Premier League’s flagship community programmes. It has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help youngsters in some of the most-high need areas.
“By engaging young people in constructive activities including football, coaching, educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive football and sports participation rates, and authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered.”
Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward added:
“It is a pleasure to link up with the Swans Community Trust, Police and Crime Commissioner, our PCSO’s, Llanelli Town Council and the Community Safety Partnership in bringing forward such an exciting project.
“Engagement has taken place with both local schools at Ysgol PenRhos and Ysgol Maes Y Morfa as well as strong partnership work with our existing sports clubs in the area at Seaside AFC and Bwlch Rangers too all of whom have been very supportive.
“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out in great numbers with more expected next week. It gives them somewhere to go in the area and have fun with others within a safe environment.
“I now look forward to seeing this project go from strength to strength.”
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