Royal College Mental Health Expert Advisory Group Wales

expert group calls for system wide changes for mental health in Wales

A group of eleven royal colleges and professional bodies are meeting with Members of the Senedd today calling for the urgent transformation of  mental health services to ensure the people of Wales can be assured of access to high quality, well-resourced and appropriately staffed services. 

One year after its formation, members of the Royal College Mental Health Expert Advisory Group (RCMHEAG) are highlighting the critical need for a greater focus on the changes needed to improve the delivery and structure of mental health services across Wales in the community, hospital and specialist secure settings. 

The group is concerned that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with cost of living increases and other socio-economic challenges will further increase pressures on already stretched mental health services. A focus on the wellbeing of workforce is vitally important for staff retention, continuity of care, and the delivery of safe and effective care right across the health and social care system. The group believe this must be a high priority for the NHS across Wales.     

As a multi-professional group, set up to provide expert and impartial advice to the Welsh Government and the NHS, the group is committed to multi-disciplinary approaches to tackle the long standing and complex challenges facing mental health services. A well-trained, supported workforce that is fully equipped to meet the demands of mental health is seen as central to the future provision of mental health services for all ages.  This should include professionals with specialist training and the mental health workforce must include the full range of professions, supported by a range of skillsets. 

In its annual report published today [22 November 2022], the RCMHEAG welcomes the commitment of the Welsh Government, Health Education Improvement Wales (HEIW) and Social Care Wales to transforming the mental health workforce and the focus on multidisciplinary care. The consultation on Developing a strategic mental health workforce plan for health and social care was welcomed by the group as was the emphasis that the plan must be owned by everyone involved. The group is now eager to continue working with HEIW and SCW to help drive forward new plans for the mental health workforce in Wales. 

Commenting on the need for urgent transformation in mental health services a spokesperson for the RCMHEAG said: 

“If ever there was a time for urgent review and transformation of mental health services, it must be now.  As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the pressure on mental health services is inevitably increasing and continuing to place more stress on a the health and social system. 

Our greatest asset is our people and steps must be taken to support their wellbeing so they can deliver safe and high quality care to the patients they serve. 

We must also find ways to end fragmentation of services, break down barriers between health and social care, and harness digital technologies and innovative ways of working as enablers for change.  

The pressures on mental health services are not new but as they intensity, the need for action becomes ever more urgent. As an expert group we look forward to continuing to work with key decision makers and listening to our professions on the ground to steer forward change with purpose and pace”