Penarth’s Labour AM Vaughan Gething – who is Welsh Government minister in charge of the NHS in Wales – has refused a direct request to appear before a High Court judge in Cardiff .
The court was considering the treatment of a psychotic 17-year-old girl with “severe learning difficulties” who could not be found an appropriate place in any NHS mental health unit by the Aneurin Bevan Health Board.
Newport City Council had told the court it was “extremely concerned” about the girl’s mental, physical and emotional state.
The High Court judge Mr Justice Francis described the case as a “desperate tragedy” . He said there were a number of cases where vulnerable young people were not been given the attention that they needed.
It then emerged in evidence that Vaughan Gething (Labour Cardiff South and Penarth) – who holds the title of “Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services” in the Welsh Labour Government – had been asked to attend the court in person.
The BBC reported that that Gething had “ had the situation explained to him” – but that he had then “declined” to attend the proceedings.
Gething had justified his decision to refuse to come before to the court by claiming that he did not have what he called “an operational decision-making role” .
Gething also informed the court that “the Welsh Government did not have a direct role in the commissioning of mental health services.”
The court hearing was adjourned for an hour whilst officials took further steps to try to find accommodation for the troubled teenage patient. Eventually tempororary accommodation was found but a long term solution has yet to be provided .