Local Senedd Member for Monmouth Constituency, Nick Ramsay, raised a number of public health concerns with the First Minister during Plenary last week following questions received from constituents.
Nick stated as follows: “First Minister, if I can ask you about two areas, firstly, I've been contacted by a constituent who is concerned that, as businesses come out of lockdown, there could be a number of issues that have developed over a long period of businesses being closed down, such as legionnaire's disease, for instance, that could generate subsequent public health issues. I wonder if you could tell me what advice and guidance is being given to businesses or will be given to businesses as the lockdown is lessened and people do return to work to their businesses.
“Secondly, could you update us on what support is being made available for mental health services at this time during the pandemic? We know that the ongoing lockdown is resulting in mental health issues for many people, many of those in families, but particularly those living alone. And, of course, in the worst case scenarios this can lead to very severe problems, and even, in some cases, suicide. I wonder what data is being collected to monitor the mental health situation of people and what's being done to support those mental health services, including suicide prevention.”
In response, The First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS said: “ I thank Nick Ramsay for that. So, we published advice and guidance for businesses at the end of last week, having had it approved by the shadow social partnership council, and, as I said, I was very pleased that that advice was jointly endorsed by the TUC and the CBI in Wales. 'Keep Wales safe at work'—the guidance is called, and there will be further, and more specific guidance published as well. I will make sure that the specific point that Nick Ramsay has raised about things that may have built up whilst a business is close that businesses need to think about and attend to—I'll go away and make enquiries to make sure that the advice is covering that important issue.
“On mental health services, Llywydd, more generally, the NHS is resuming some of its more normal activity. The number of beds that are free in our health service has fallen from 3,500 at its peak down to 1,700 today, and that's because more people are being admitted to hospital for non-COVID-related reasons. We've kept our mental health services going through the whole of this crisis, but we're able to resume more ordinary mental health services as well at this time. I think, last week, my colleagues Vaughan Gething and Kirsty Williams jointly announced further funding support for young people, particularly in families. I can give an assurance to Nick Ramsay and other Members who take a close interest in it that mental health has always been close to the top of the things that we have asked the health service to continue to do during the crisis and we are very keen indeed to strengthen the response that we're able to offer to those who have had mental health conditions specifically exacerbated by the experience of this awful illness. “