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Tighter treatment target for mental ill health in Wales ‘will be challenging'

Welsh government is to halve the waiting time for primary care mental health treatment

The waiting time target for primary care mental health treatment in Wales is to be cut from 56 days to 28.

All health boards will be expected to show progress in meeting the new target by the end of the financial year.

Health and social services minister Mark Drakeford said: This announcement will help ensure timely access to treatment, ensuring people who need expert care and support receive the right services in the right place at the right time.

'Some organisations are already meeting or are close to meeting this target. I expect other health boards to make progress by the end of March.

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said the move was welcome, because it acknowledges that people with mental ill health require faster access to treatment than is currently being provided.

However, she added: 'We hope the government will monitor these ambitious targets

The waiting time target for primary care mental health treatment in Wales is to be cut from 56 days to 28.

All health boards will be expected to show progress in meeting the new target by the end of the financial year.

Health and social services minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘This announcement will help ensure timely access to treatment, ensuring people who need expert care and support receive the right services in the right place at the right time.

'Some organisations are already meeting or are close to meeting this target. I expect other health boards to make progress by the end of March.’

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said the move was welcome, because it acknowledges that people with mental ill health require faster access to treatment than is currently being provided.

However, she added: 'We hope the government will monitor these ambitious targets and ensure they are being maintained.'

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board nurse consultant Norman Young welcomed the focus on mental health but questioned whether adequate funds will be made available to support primary care mental health services in achieving the target.

He said: 'We know not all local health boards are meeting the 56-day target now. There is a lot of demand on these services, so meeting the new target will be a challenge. My concern is it could lead to more emphasis on group and guided self-help treatments and less access to one-to-one treatments for those that need it.

'The Welsh government has invested 11.4% of the total Welsh health budget in mental health, but we have seen very little additional funding in primary care.'  

A government spokesperson said health boards would be expected to use money from the ring-fenced £7.6 million budget for mental health services announced earlier this year to meet the new target.

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