A 'yes' vote in the 3 March poll over direct decision-making powers for the Welsh Assembly is vital to ensuring fair treatment and legislation for the vulnerable, say charities.
Attempts by Welsh charities, health and community groups, and the Assembly, to improve the quality of mental health care and make better use of Welsh taxpayers’ money, were held up for a year in Whitehall and took a total of three years to implement because of the need to secure ‘permission’, they say.
The inefficiencies of the current arrangements, and the human consequences on the lives of thousands of Welsh people, are at the heart of the referendum debate.
The Mental Health LCO had all-party support and was an uncontroversial reform which still struggled to get through, say its advocates.
One of Wales’ favourite sons, international rugby referee Clive Norling, has urged people to vote ‘Yes’, so that in future, Wales can respond more quickly to the needs of its people:
He declared: “There was common agreement in Wales, from community workers through to the Assembly, on the direction we wanted to go in Wales: a more co-ordinated approach which provided better care to the ill, and made better use of health, welfare and other budgets."
“But Wales had to wait three years to pass the law that gives people with mental health conditions new rights in regard to assessment, treatment and the services that help tackle these issues in a holistic way, putting an end to the post-code lottery that currently exists in Wales,” said Norling.
Clive Norling draws on his own personal experience. Once regarded as the best rugby referee in the world, Clive later battled clinical depression for over six years. The failure of different agencies to co-ordinate the management of his illness and related matters had a huge impact on him and his family. He welcomes the new ‘holistic’ approach and is appalled that it took so long because of the bureaucratic process of securing ‘permission’:
He continued: “one in four people will suffer from mental ill health, and nearly all of us will be affected in some way by family or friends suffering. It’s estimated that mental illness costs Wales £7.2 billion a year when you take into account the cost of care, costs to the economy and the impact on quality of life.
“The current recession will only make matters worse, and there are already clear signs of the impact on people’s well-being because of unemployment, debt and job uncertainty.
“When you are ill you need treatment now. We cannot again afford to wait three years to get ‘permission’. It’s a waste of time and money, which can be put to more practical use in the delivery of services in Wales.
“Voting ‘Yes’ will mean an end to the current slow bureaucratic process, which absorbs valuable resources, costs and time.”