News in brief: Tories call for post-pandemic mental health ‘transformation’ in Wales
The Welsh Conservatives calling are for a transformation of mental health care provision after details were released of a new report on the impact of the Covid pandemic on young people.
The Mind Cymru report, which is being published later this week, found more than two thirds of young people have felt their mental health has worsened over the pandemic, according to ITV Wales, which has been given early access to the study.
Nearly 90% of those questioned said their mental health worsened in 2020 and said it was feelings of loneliness which made their mental health worse. Young people also said they suffered a lack of motivation and fears for the future due to the pandemic.
Responding to the findings, James Evans, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Mid Wales, says more must be done to help young people who have been struggling with their mental health over the last 18 months and said “they deserve their freedoms back”.
“The last 18 months have been tough on everyone, but especially our young people, and this is a concerning report regarding the impact of the pandemic on our young people,” Mr Evans said.
“Many have been robbed of life milestones which many of us took for granted in the past, such as heading to university, 18th birthday parties, sixth form balls and passing their driving tests.
“The knock-on effect of prolonged unplanned lockdowns is now beginning to be seen, with huge waiting lists for driving tests. Young people are at very little risk and deserve their freedoms back.
“They were out of the classroom for months on end and unable to socialise with their friends, so it is unsurprising that many youngsters are feeling lonely and isolated.
“We need to see urgent action from Labour ministers in Cardiff Bay, starting with a cast-iron guarantee that they will transform mental health by giving it the same focus and energy that is given to physical health,” he added.
“Ministers should explore introducing a new Mental Health Act, establishing a network of mental health crisis centres, and ensuring all young people have access to mental health services at schools, colleges and universities.
“I will be lobbying ministers in the Senedd to make sure our young people get the help they need and deserve.”
Covid deaths remain low in Wales despite surging case numbers
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have confirmed three deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in Wales in the week ending 2 July.
According to the ONS, just four deaths due to Covid have been recorded over the last four weeks, despite the recent surge in cases fuelled by the Delta Covid variant.
At the peak of the second wave of the pandemic in January, there were 467 deaths involving Covid in Wales in just one week.
Overall, the number of deaths from all causes registered for the latest week was 569, six more than the previous week and 0.4% below the five-year average (two fewer deaths).
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 the number of deaths recorded by the ONS in Wales is 48,847 and of these, 7,903 deaths (16.2%) mentioned Covid-19. This was 4,895 deaths above the five-year average.
Two of the deaths included in the latest update are late registrations which occurred in March.
Deaths counted by the ONS are when Covid-19 is mentioned by doctors on the death certificate and which occur in all settings – including hospitals, care homes, hospices and people’s homes.
The daily figures released by Public Health Wales only include the deaths of a hospital patients or care home resident where Covid-19 has been confirmed with a positive laboratory test and the clinician suspects this was a causative factor in the death.
Today’s update from PHW reported one new death due to Covid and 737 new positive tests for the virus.
The newly recorded death was in the Cardiff and Vale health board area and takes the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in Wales to 5,580.
Cardiff (94) also reported the highest number of new cases in the last 24 hours, followed by Wrexham (65) and Flintshire (64).
Wrexham continues to have the worst weekly case rate in the country at 330.3 per 100,000 of the population, up 0.8 in the last 24 hours and it also has the highest positivity rate over the last seven days at 14.4% per 100,000 tests, an increase of 0.2% since yesterday’s report.
The national case rate has climbed to 138.3 from 136.1 and is the highest recorded since the week ending 24 January. The positive test proportion has also risen, from 6.6% to 7.3%.
£500 self-isolation support payment scheme extended
The Welsh Government has confirmed it is extending the Self-Isolation Support Scheme until March 2022.
The scheme was launched in November last year and supports people on low pay with a £500 payment if they have to self-isolate because they have symptoms of coronavirus or are a close contact of someone who does.
Minister for Finance and Local Government Rebecca Evans has approved an additional £4m, on top of £8m already earmarked in the Local Government Hardship Fund to extend the scheme, which has so far made 13,200 payments.
“It’s so important that people self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 because this helps to stop the virus spreading,” Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said:
“TTP has been extremely effective at supporting both people who have tested positive and their contacts and providing advice, guidance and support. It’s important we continue to invest to provide support to those who need it the most.”
Carmarthen MP to continue to sit as an independent
Former Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards will continue to sit as an independent at Westminster, despite his 12-month suspension from the party coming to an end.
Mr Edwards was cautioned for assault last year and was suspended from Plaid in July, two months after he was arrested at his home and after he referred himself to the party’s disciplinary committee.
Plaid Cymru told BBC Wales the party had “not received a request by Mr Edwards to re-join” the party”.
A spokesperson for the MP told the BBC Mr Edwards was, “completely focused on the task of representing the constituents of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr to the best of his abilities, as he has done for the last 11 years”.
Scramble to save major developments after construction company goes into administration
Hannah Neary, local democracy reporter
Stakeholders have confirmed they are still committed to delivering multi-million pound developments in Bridgend county as the construction company behind them is being placed into administration.
Partners say they are seeking new arrangements to ensure Bridgend’s Sunnyside Wellness Village and a £2.3m children’s hub will still be built following the news that WRW Construction is set to go into administration.
WRW, one of Wales’ leading firms, said the closure came as it had come under “significant financial stress”, despite a having a large number of orders.
Plans for Sunnyside Wellness Village include 59 homes and a £10.7m healthcare centre, located on the site of the old Sunnyside council offices and magistrates court in Bridgend. The whole project, approved by Bridgend Council in 2019, is expected to cost £23 million, with £18 million funding from Welsh Government.
Housing association and care provider Linc Cymru is behind the development, which is being funded by Welsh Government and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTMUHB). The company was also working with WRW to develop a housing estate in Malvern Drive, Cardiff.
Louise Attwood, Linc Cymru executive director of property and commercial, said the company is “still committed” to delivering the wellness village with the government, council and CTMUHB.
She added: “We are working with our partners to manage the completion of this project which will bring a unique housing and health development to the area. By combining health care and housing provision, putting wellbeing at the heart of the development, Sunnyside Wellness Village will provide new homes that meet the needs of local people and support the community through a state-of-the-art health centre provision.”
Bridgend Council approved plans for a new children’s residential home and social services hub to be built at the former Brynmenyn Primary School site during a meeting in June. The local authority wants to relocate the emergency and assessment unit currently based at Maple Tree House, a home for eight to 17 year-olds, as well as its fostering and placements team.
A council spokesperson said the closure of WRW is “very disappointing news” and the authority is in discussions with partners about what to do next about the wellness village and “further clarification is being sought by them from WRW Construction as a matter of urgency”.
They added: “While this will inevitably impact upon the timescales for all projects that the contractor was involved with, including the wellness village and the children’s hub, we remain confident that another high-quality contractor will soon be confirmed, and that the projects will still be delivered for the benefit of local residents.”
A spokesperson for CTMUHB said, “We remain committed to the construction of the Bridgend Health and Wellbeing Centre, and to the benefits that it will bring to the community. We are now exploring the options open to us to ensure that this project is delivered.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said “We are working with partners to determine next steps to progress the project”.