Let's never forget that our Welsh Assembly Government has ignored the rights of service users by, systematically, denying us genuine involvement in the planning, or alterations to our Mental Health services. Not only have they dismissed our concerns out of hand, they have autocratically decided that we can never have a say in the future of our service. How has this happened ? and, Why has our government ignored the ruling legislation from Parliament, plus the whole raft of quasi - legislation and guidelines that they created, specifically for the benefit of all service users and carers. We had a National Service Framework that was never implemented, followed by a Revised edition that was, similarly, left to gather dust among the tomes of empty rhetoric that ( seemingly ) offered us a Shangri-La of mental health services where we were free to express our concerns, with written guarantees that these would be properly addressed - all of this costly work swallowed up in a whirlpool of politcal, deceipt, rationalisation and cost-cutting, bad intent - or, simply 'Paying Lip Service' to the declaration that "Mental Health was a top priority for our Government (along with Cardiac and Cancer Treatment )". In fact, ever since Rhodri Morgan uttered those infamous words, "Our Government will be open and transparent", we have had nothing but lies and false promises from all of his Ministers, and other lackies, whose only concern was keeping the gravy train running, whilst empire-building at the side of the Rubicon-sorry-Taff. Gone were all the disengenuous, insincere, false promises, made by our new Welsh Assembly Government, especially after the departure of the first First Minister, ( famous for running and parachuting, apparently), Alun Michael.
However, as Gillian has so eloquently and forthrightly stated, this is nothing new. Mental Health services have been getting smaller and more inadequate over the last decade and beyond. Jane Hutt was on our side though, she ( and her minions ) created the National Service Framework for Mental health services, then spent her time abolishing the Health Authorities and replacing them with 22 Local Health Boards. Unfortunately, she failed to clear out the dross of incompetent management that was the cause of the failure of the health authorities. Even now - those that aren't dead, like the Local Health Boards that Jane Hutt created - have still been kept on by our even newer Wales National Health Service. Why, even the Chief executive of Bro Taf Health Authority - famed for leaving a legacy of debt in excess of £46 m - has been given the new new post of Chief Executive of the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, after years in the wilderness. Her 'old chum' Edwina even had the kindness to forgive her past incompentent management, by asking her to 'help' form the means of transistion to the new health board that - surprise, surpise - she ended up running. Mental Health Services were being run down over a decade ago and - surprise surprise - the same incompetent managers continued this destruction during the ill wind of change in NHS services.
The closure of Sully Hospital marked the end of any pretence of honesty, probity, or 'genuine service user involvement'. The disposal of these historic buildings, and 75 acres of prime land, with 67.5 acres of prime seafront, marked the end of any honesty in the NHS or the government, when the sale was made to the lowest bidder, who managed to purchase this valuable public site for a paltry £2m, as marketed. In addition, the incompetent Trust handed over a further 20,000 sq ft of land to build on at £50 per square ft - an addition previously forbidden and - surprise surprise - not offered to any of the other 103 bidders. The shameless cover-up of this 'improper' deal continues to this day, with the government cowardly abdicating its responsibility to investigate this abuse of public assets in the same Cavalier manner that they have chosen to abdicate their responsibility to correct the dishonest changes made to our mental health services, following the recent so-called 'consultations' conducted by their subordinate bodies, the University Health Board and the Community Health Council. So, we must not dwell on these crimes, but look to the future to decide what we - as service users and citizens - can do to bring about genuine improvements to our Mental Health Services. Is there a constructive solution to this problem ( to be continued.......)