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Ebrill 2005 April


ST. DAVIDS - PUBLIC MEETING

A well attended public meeting was held on the evening of Friday 18th March regarding the application by Mental Health Care UK to change the status of St Davids to that of private hospital. Also present were AMs Karen Sinclair and Brynle Williams, Tom Biggins and Mark Strong, the Conservative and Plaid Cymru candidates, Nigel Roberts, County Councillor and the Community Councillors. The meeting was chaired by Gerallt Tudor, Chair of the Community Council. Professor David Jones outlined the present position, pointing out that local communities have lived side by side with St Davids since its change to a residential home for young adults 8 or 9 years ago but communities are now anxious to find out what is happening in view of the application for a change of status. There has been a lot of work going on and many of the former residents have left. The main problem for all local communities has been the lack of information forthcoming from either the Company or the Care Standards Inspectorate Wales, and this continues to be the situation, with neither represented at the meeting, although apologies were sent from the CSIW. However, the Care Standards Inspectorate Wales has no responsibility to communities and is only answerable to the Assembly. Deborah Russell of the CSIW has confirmed an application has been received for a change of status to an independent hospital for the mentally ill.

This means they can care for people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 who are a danger to themselves or to others. People who are detained by order of the courts under section 37 of the Act are normally lodged in institutions such as Broadmoor or Rampton. However, the Government want to move patients from these big institutions into smaller units with the intention of reintegrating them into their community. It is unlikely patients detained at St. Davids would be from our communities but more likely from communities outside our area and possibly hundreds of miles away. According to Denbighshire County Council and the CSIW no planning permission is required for the change of status, but would be required for building work. CSIW is not required or expected to consult with the public and there is no means of appeal by the public against a decision of the CSIW, although organisations applying to them may appeal against their decision. Concern were also expressed over the following matters. The legislation which created this situation was secondary legislation for which the Assembly is responsible. Mental Health Care UK have already experienced difficulty in recruiting staff and have recently had to recruit suitably qualified staff from the Philippines. Several people spoke of the high turnover of staff at St. David’s and expressed doubt that staff qualified to cope with possibly difficult patients could be recruited to rural areas. There has so far been no response by the CSIW to an application under the Freedom of Information Act. There was also considerable concern over the effect upon the school and upon tourism. Brynle Williams, AM, said that any place housing detained patients was a cause for concern and there was something seriously amiss in the situation. Mark Strong, Plaid Cymru said he was very concerned over the policy, which seemed to use stealth to move patients from cities into the back yards of rural communities. He felt this was morally wrong. Karen Sinclair, AM, who has taken a major interest in the application since it first came to light said she had been assured by the CSIW that no application had been completed on St Davids, but she promised she would urgently arrange a meeting with both Mental Health Care UK and the CSIW, with Professor David Jones attending. Another public meeting will be held in two to three weeks time.

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