Tag: Health

Health and Social Care Committee: inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse

The Health and Social Care Committee has launched an inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse in Wales.

What is the Committee’s inquiry about?

The Committee has recently been doing some work on new psychoactive substances (“NPS”) – better known as “legal highs”. It will be publishing a report in the new year setting out its conclusions and its recommendations to the Welsh Government.

During this inquiry, the Committee has been hearing about the effect that NPS can have on people. Members know that alcohol and substance misuse can also have really serious effects on people, and want to build on their current work on NPS by looking into the issues of alcohol and substance misuse in Wales.

As part of the inquiry, Members want to know about:

  • the effect that alcohol and substance misuse has on people in Wales;
  • how well these issues are currently being tackled; and
  • whether the right local services are in place across Wales to help people and make sure that they know about the possible harms.

The Committee’s Chair, David Rees AM, said: “Alcohol and substance misuse can have devastating effects on individuals, their families and their communities. We want to know what it is that makes people use drugs or alcohol, and whether the right national approach and local services are in place to raise awareness and to give people help when they need it”.

How can you tell us what you think?

To inform the inquiry, the Committee wants to hear from people from across Wales.

Sharing your views with the Committee will help Members to make sure that they can take into account how alcohol and substance misuse affects real people in Wales on a daily basis.

There are three ways that you can contribute to the inquiry:

  • write to or email the Committee with your views on the inquiry terms of reference.

All responses must be received by 9 January 2015.

What happens then?

The Committee will then consider all of the written responses it receives, and arrange formal oral evidence sessions with key organisations and the Deputy Minister for Health.

Once it has taken evidence, the Committee will then write and publish a report which makes recommendations to the Welsh Government.

Where can you find out more information?

If you would like more information about the inquiry:

If you or somebody you know has been affected by alcohol or substance misuse, or if you would like more information, you can contact DAN 24/7 for advice. DAN 24/7 is a free and confidential helpline for anyone in Wales wanting further information or help relating to drugs and or alcohol.
Freephone: 0808 808 2234
or text DAN to: 81066

Health and Social Care Committee – work for the autumn term 2014

The Health and Social Care Committee is having a busy term this autumn with a number of important projects underway. These include work on new psychoactive substances (known as legal highs); the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010; and follow-up inquiries on areas of health and social care that affect the people of Wales.

The Committee’s consultation on new psychoactive substances (legal highs) closed last week. This important issue has been widely reported in the media over recent months, and the inquiry has sought the thoughts and opinions of the people of Wales. To inform the inquiry, the Committee visited parts of north and south Wales to talk to both former users and service providers on the impact and effect of these substances.



The Committee’s Chair, David Rees AM, said: “It has been of great benefit to us as a Committee to have this opportunity to speak with people who work on the front-line, and who are familiar with the issues surrounding the use of these substances. We are now looking forward to hearing more evidence on this important issue in November before bringing forward recommendations in the new year”.

The Committee will be taking oral (or spoken) evidence on Thursday 6 November and Wednesday 12 November, and the issues raised during the course of the inquiry will be put to the Minister for Health and Social Services on Wednesday 26 November. More information about how to watch the Committee’s meetings is included below.

More information on the inquiry into new psychoactive substances (“legal highs”)

The Committee published its report on its inquiry into progress made to date on implementing the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan on 16 October. During the inquiry the Committee held focus groups with cancer patients and others with direct experience of cancer services in Wales. The report summarises the evidence the Committee heard, and set out its findings and recommendations to the Welsh Government. The report has been published on the Committee’s webpage, and anyone interested in finding out more can also follow the inquiry’s Storify.


More information on the inquiry into progress made to date on implementing the Welsh Government’s Cancer Delivery Plan

The Committee is committed to following up on the recommendations that it makes following its inquiries to see what developments and progress have been made. This term the Committee has held a scrutiny session with the Minister for Health and Social Services and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Wales to follow up on its inquiry on the contribution of community pharmacy to health services. The Committee reported on its original inquiry in May 2012, and now intends to write to the Minister with further recommendations.

More information on the follow-up inquiry on the contribution of community pharmacy to health services

The Committee will also be following up its inquiry into still births in Wales. The Committee reported on this one day inquiry in February 2013, and recently wrote to the Minister for Health and Social Services to request a progress update. The Minister’s response states that, despite the progress made on the engagement of clinical staff, further work remains to be done to fully implement all the Committee’s recommendations. The Committee will soon be writing to everyone that gave evidence in the original inquiry.

The Committee will also be holding a number of scrutiny sessions over this term, including a session with the Chief Medical Officer on Wednesday 22 October, and the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales on 26 November. It will also be receiving a briefing on the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 on 20 November.

If you would like to book a seat to view any Committee meeting, contact the Booking Team on 0845 010 5500 / 01492 523 200 or assembly.bookings@wales.gov.uk. You can also watch the Committee’s meetings through the Assembly’s broadcasting channel Senedd.tv.

If you’d like to keep up to date with this Committee’s work, why not follow its progress on its Twitter feed? Follow @SeneddHealth for all the latest information.

Health and Social Care Committee – visits and focus group discussions for the inquiry into new psychoactive substances.

On Thursday 2 October, Members of the Health and Social Care Committee divided in order to hold two simultaneous visits in north and south Wales. The purpose of the visits was to discuss the Committee’s inquiry into new psychoactive substances (also known as ‘legal highs’) with service users and service providers.

Darren Millar AM, Janet Finch-Saunders AM and the Chair of the Committee, David Rees AM, travelled to Wrexham.

The day started with a visit to the LOTS (Life on the street) project, which is a project established by the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW). Members spoke with people who have been affected by new psychoactive substances, talking about the impact their use has had on them, how easy they are to obtain, and the ways in which the Welsh Government and others could help tackle the problem.

After visiting the LOTS project, Members met with staff at Dan 24/7, Wales’ publicly funded drug and alcohol helpline. Discussions were held about the number and type of calls the helpline takes every day, and the way the helpline is currently being promoted to the people of Wales.

The last discussion of the day took place at Glyndwr University. Here, Members met with focus groups of front line staff from the NHS, the police force, charities and various other organisations currently dealing with the impact of new psychoactive substances. These discussions lasted an hour and were followed by Assembly Members feeding back the main points from their tables for all attendees to hear.



The main points for discussion at the focus group discussions included:

  • Is the availability and capacity of services to provide support to users of new psychoactive substances adequate, and how could these services be improved?
  • What different factors and approaches need to be considered when dealing with the use of new psychoactive substances in the rural / urban setting?
  • Is the level of coordination, both within Wales and between the Welsh and UK Governments in tackling the issue of the use of new psychoactive substances sufficient, and what needs to be done to improve these partnerships?
  • What different levers should be utilised in order to tackle new psychoactive substances, for example legislation, enforcement activity (trading standards) etc.?

In south Wales John Griffiths AM, Kirsty Williams AM, Lynne Neagle AM, Gwyn Price AM and Lindsay Whittle AM visited Drugaid Cymru in Caerphilly to discuss issues around new psychoactive substances with staff and service users. Later, Members visited a group of young people who have been involved in a filming project – called Choices – through the Fixers and Forsythia Youth Project in Merthyr Tydfil. This film explores the effects of using new psychoactive substances on young people and their families; you can watch it here:

As was the case in Wrexham, the day in Merthyr ended with focus group discussions. You can see pictures from the Merthyr focus groups here:


You can watch video clips from Assembly Members and event attendees here:


The Committee has extended the deadline for the submission of written evidence until Friday 17 October 2014. For more information about how to submit evidence please visit our website:


The Committee will now take oral evidence from various organisations and individuals as well as the Minister for Health and Social Care in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. These sessions are due to take place on 6, 12 and 26 November. You can watch the sessions on senedd.tv or you can reserve a space in the public gallery by contacting the Assembly’s booking line. The Committee will then consider its findings and write a report, which will include recommendations to the Welsh Government.

Once the report is published you will be able to view it here: http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/mgConsultationDisplay.aspx?id=135&RPID=1504375700&cp=yes.

You can keep up to date with the Committee’s inquiry by following @seneddhealth on twitter or visiting the inquiry’s Storify page. Both will provide regular updates on progress.

Health and Social Care Committee – Inquiry into the availability of bariatric services

Patients, nurses, doctors, dieticians, psychologists and GPs recently met with Assembly Members at an event in Cwmbran to discuss the availability of bariatric (a branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity) services in Wales, as part of an inquiry which is being held by the National Assembly for Wales’ Health and Social Care Committee: http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=8523

The event, which was held at the Best Western Parkway Hotel in Cwmbran, was broken into two sections; four group discussions took place at the same time, followed by a feedback session at the end.

Participants were split into four groups to get a balance of viewpoints on each table. These group discussions were facilitated by Kirsty Williams AM, Elin Jones AM, Lynne Neagle AM and Rebecca Evans AM and focused on five main questions:

– What improvements, if any, could be made to the provision of – and patients’ access to – multidisciplinary teams, and weight management clinics, in Wales?

– Do you think current criteria identifying those who are eligible for bariatric surgery are adequate and appropriate?

– How is a patient’s suitability for bariatric surgery assessed by all relevant clinicians involved in his/her care? What, if any, problems are encountered?

– With regard to the treatment of patients with weight issues, is the level of training, information and support provided to health professionals adequate?

– What effect does weight management intervention or lack thereof, have on the lives of patients?

The group discussions lasted for around an hour, followed by a 45 minute feedback session where a representative from each of the four focus groups fed back what the participants on their tables had said.

A nurse (Nia Eyre), a dietician (Sioned Quirke) and a patient (Pam Bland) all took part in the event, and were part of the same group discussion. To see what they thought of taking part in the event, what they raised in their group, and what they think the Committee should recommend to the Welsh Government, see the video playlist below

A note of the main discussion points from the event was written (Agenda item 5c):
http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/documents/g1986/Public%20reports%20pack%20Wednesday%2026-Mar-2014%2010.30%20Health%20and%20Social%20Care%20Committee.pdf?T=10, which fed into the Committee’s scrutiny of the Minister about bariatric services on 26 March. You can watch this session online on www.Senedd.tv.

The Committee hopes to produce a report with recommendations to the Welsh Government in May. The conclusions of the focus groups’ discussions will help inform the report and recommendations. You will be able to see the full report here when it has been completed: http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=8523

All Assembly health news in one place

This week we are trialling a Twitter feed called @seneddhealth which will aggregate all news relating health which is happening at the Assembly. It will feature items such as Plenary debates, inquiries, legislation, consultation responses, research papers, Welsh Government announcements, events in the Senedd and any other health news. The stream will also monitor and retweet relevant news and information from external sources such as charities, health organisations and NGOs.

The idea of the trial is to offer subject-specific streams of information for people and organisations which are interested in particular subjects. It also attempts to demonstrate the scope and depth of the Assembly’s work.

The trial will run until the end of the week so take a look and send any feedback to assemblywales@wales.gov.uk. Suggestions for tweets, channels and organisations to monitor are also welcome.

Awareness of mental ill health

Did you know that one in four people experience mental health problems at some point in their lives? Ninety per cent of those people face stigma and discrimination as a result.

Discrimination against people with mental health issues is not uncommon in Wales. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s research report ‘Who Do You See?’ found that 37 per cent of people surveyed would be unhappy if a close relative married someone with a mental health condition. Only 40 per cent of people surveyed thought that people with mental health conditions are suitable to be primary school teachers.

The campaign Time to Change Wales aim to end discrimination against people with mental ill health and to get us all talking about mental health. Click here for some common myths and facts about mental ill health.

David Crapaz-Keay personally experienced mental ill health.

Mental health charity Mind has come up with ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ which we can all do in work. Each of the tips are designed to help you make your workplace mentally healthier. Try them out today!