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by Owen Griffkin, Mental Health Participation Officer

I have been facilitating Powys Patients’ Council, with the support of volunteers Rhydian Parry and John Lilley, since early 2018 as part of my role in the Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) mental health team.

Powys Patients’ Council aims to give a voice to patients, currently in Felindre Unit at Bronllys Hospital in Powys, who are offered acute in-patient mental health services. Regular patient-only meetings give people an opportunity to express their views on the services they receive whilst they are in hospital. These views are then passed on anonymously to ward and hospital management staff, in addition to senior Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) staff, so that solutions can be found.

Owen Griffkin

It was a sweltering day for June’s Patients’ Council meeting and the ward was close to capacity. This was the first Patients’ Council session since we had left a suggestion box on the ward, so there were more issues than usual to deal with. Having the suggestion box means we can address issues or concerns that we might have previously missed from people who have had short stays on the ward. It can also follow that these might have been dealt with already, as was the case with a note about the heating being on in rooms at night.Another note praised the caring environment and professional staff which the Patients’ Council were pleased to pass on to the new permanent Ward Manager, Lisa Hale.

Concerns raised in the meeting included a lack of activities, the annoyance of an office door banging and not being allowed devices with cameras in communal areas due to privacy reasons. As all modern tablets/phones have cameras this unfortunately means no devices can be used in the day room. We have sent out an appeal over Facebook and Twitter to see if anybody has any 1st generation Kindle Fires as these tablets didn’t have cameras, so hopefully we will get some response to this. We are looking into raising some money for activities provided by an external facilitator as this will leave the ward affected less by staff leave and sickness.

Lisa Hale, Felindre Ward Manager
There has been a new advocacy service commissioned by PTHB and delivered by Conwy & Denbighshire Mental Health Advocacy Service (CADMHAS) and this was praised by patients who found it very good and non-judgemental. We spoke to Adrianne Cleverly who provides the service in Powys recently in How can mental health advocacy help you?


Proposed smoking ban in hospital grounds


The Patients’ Council is also attending an extra meeting this month to discuss smoking in the light of the recently announced news about banning smoking on ALL hospital grounds.

As this will include acute mental health in-patient wards such as the Felindre Ward, it is important that people associated with the ward(s) voice their views in relation to this consultation. 

The ban is due to come into force in Summer 2019, and this will give ward managers 18 months from then to ensure there are alternative measures in place to replace existing indoor smoking rooms, and that outdoor areas fall in line with the new rules. One of the proposed rules will prohibit an outdoor smoking area from being within 10 metres of any hospital building. This will mean that if there is no exemption for mental health wards it will be impossible for there to be a secure smoking area that people can use without staff members present and this creates other issues relating to staff health and second-hand smoke. 



I will be working with the Patients’ Council to look at the possible impact of these rule changes, and how the hospital can offset the disruption and distress that it may cause to people on the ward and potentially other wards/mental health facilities across Powys. This will very likely be a contentious issue and it will be interesting to see how other hospitals in Wales deal with it. If you have lived experience of an acute mental health ward, and would like to contribute to the consultation, please email owen.griffkin@pavo.org.uk or ring 01597 822191 with your comments or for more information.