Concerns have been raised over the lack of mental health services available to people in Flintshire facing a crisis.
Representatives from the North Wales patient watchdog said lengthy waiting times were one of the most frequent issues encountered by residents in the county.
They added that the failure to improve mental health services was one of the reasons why Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been in special measures since 2015.
The problems were highlighted by senior figures from the North Wales Community Health Council as they addressed politicians at County Hall in Mold.
Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting yesterday, Linda Harper, who chairs the watchdog’s Flintshire local committee, said:
“It’s been quite difficult to get a coherent overview of what is actually available and that’s an ongoing priority.
“The other concern is the waiting list for help is months rather than weeks.
“If you start off with mild depression and you have to wait nine months then that could become gradually worse.
“It seems to me if you can’t get primary care right it’s like a series of dominos and it is getting worse.
“If you look at the statistics for suicide in 2016 men in Wales were four times more likely to die from suicide than women, so there’s clearly an issue that’s not going to go away.”
Questions were raised about the level of funding provided for mental health services in the region.
Hope councillor Gladys Healey said while she had been told a large sum was spent, she did not believe it was reflected in the assistance available.
She said: “I find it’s like a big black hole and the money just gets diluted.
“I don’t know where it’s going, but for sure it’s not going to mental health.
“The waiting list in the NHS creates a lot of mental health issues.
“As well as that, poverty and marriage break ups all work together.
“If we try and get our services more stable it would help mental health.”
The community health council’s deputy chief officer said issues with mental health services had been raised with the health board’s new chair Mark Polin.
Carol Williams said she was hopeful the former North Wales Police chief inspector would take action.
She said: “Mental health is one of the reasons the health board is in special measures and we’re conscious the word patchy is the right word across all six authorities in north Wales.
“We’re not really seeing things fitting together so we were quite surprised when had presentation from the health board about reviewing psychiatric mental health units, which are the last point patients go to when in crisis.
“We’ve asked the questions to the new chair as to what is happening at primary level regarding mental health.”
In a statement released after the meeting, the Betsi Cadwaladr’s director of operations and service delivery for mental health services, Jill Timmins said:
“Providing the right support for people experiencing mental health problems remains a high priority for the health board, however, on occasion we face challenges with staff recruitment and sickness absence.
“We are aware of the issues in Flintshire and have diverted extra resources to support the team and ensure patients are seen in a timely manner based on need.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).