Improvements To Children's Mental Health Services

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Plans to improve local access to child and adolescent mental health services in South Wales have been unveiled by Health Commission Wales.

Under the proposals, a purpose-built unit will be developed at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend providing a 24-hour, seven-day service. It will be run by Pontypridd and Rhondda NHS Trust and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through Health Commission Wales.

The unit, which will have a 14-bed planned treatment ward and a five-bed emergency and high-dependency ward, will help children and young people who are experiencing complex mental health problems such as eating disorders, mood disorders and self-harm.

Subject to the outcome of the 12-week consultation, the new unit will be open in late 2009.

In the meantime, it is proposed that the current service at the Harvey Jones Unit in Cardiff would transfer to upgraded accommodation at Glanrhyd Hospital, Bridgend in the winter of 2007. The outdated Harvey Jones Unit will close once the new facilities are open at Glanrhyd Hospital.

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Simon Dean, chief executive of Health Commission Wales, said the new unit will greatly improve mental health services for vulnerable children and young people.

"The development is in line with the Assembly Government's aims for improving mental health services in Wales as set out in Everybody's Business and the National Service Framework for Children and Young People. It will enable patients that need highly specialised care to be treated and supported as close to home as possible, closer to their family and friends.

"The unit will promote a more integrated service which provides effective and seamless follow up treatment and support after patients have moved on from the inpatient phase of their care. It will also reduce existing reliance on use of specialised non-NHS mental health services outside Wales and provide the service more cost effectively within Wales.

"This unit, along with our proposals for improving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for North Wales with new facilities in Abergele, will greatly improve access and provide the help and support that children and young people need."

Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Pontypridd and Rhondda NHS Trust, Dr Meraj Hasan, added: "The new unit will help staff and young people to be in a better environment, more suitable for work with mental health problems.

"This will, for the first time, in Wales provide for emergency psychiatric facilities for young people. This will reduce the need for young people to be admitted to an adult ward. The unit will continue to work with eating disorders and other illnesses. The service will work with partners in local areas to enable a co-ordinated approach to complex difficulties."

As part of the consultation, a public meeting has been arranged at City Hall, Cardiff on Wednesday, 4 July at 7.00pm.

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