North Wales mental health failings to be considered by Assembly inquiry

Mental health services at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are to be examined as part of an inquiry by an Assembly committee.

The National Assembly for Wales’ Public Accounts Committee has agreed to undertake an inquiry following a request by a group a North Wales Assembly Members instigated by Clwyd West AM Darren Millar. The group of AM’s sent a joint email to the Chair of the Committee in response to the publication of reports earlier this year by the Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) and Donna Ockenden following investigations arising from the Tawel Fan scandal.

In a letter to Darren Millar, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay AM, confirmed that the inquiry will look into mental health services to ‘ensure previous issues have been addressed and systems are in place to ensure governance failures do not occur again’.

Tawel Fan ward - at Glan Clwyd Hospital - was closed in 2013 after allegations were made of patients being mistreated, with initial inquiries finding patients were being "kept like animals in a zoo". However, the report by the HASCAS earlier this year found there was no evidence of institutional abuse.

In an email sent to the chair of the Committee, the AM’s stated that the families of the patients affected ‘must be able to have confidence that the historic failings and current shortcomings in mental health care are being urgently addressed’.

Speaking following the confirmation of the investigation, Clwyd West AM, Darren Millar, said:

“Many people in North Wales were concerned about the alarming differences in the conclusions drawn by those who investigated the Tawel Fan ward.

“This inquiry will provide an opportunity to consider those conclusions, take evidence from stakeholders, and to determine whether the action which is being taken in North Wales is sufficient to address the serious problems which have been exposed in mental health services in the region.

“The Tawel Fan families deserve answers to the many questions which they still have regarding the care of their loved ones and I for one hope that this inquiry will be able to assist in answering them.

“I look forward to the inquiry starting in the Spring of next year.”