James Evans has welcomed a new telephone service designed to help people suffering with urgent mental health issues.

People in Wales can now ring a free NHS hotline, and the Brecon and Radnorshire MS hopes to see further expansion of the scheme.

The 24-hour seven-day-a-week service can be accessed by dialling 111 and selecting option two.

It provides an alternative for many to attending emergency departments or calling the police.

The service has been rolled out since last November and has so far received more than 15,000 calls.

Callers are transferred to a member of their local mental health team who can refer them to other services if required or give advice on the phone.

The Welsh Government said the £6m service gives the public access to a “mental health professional” without the need for a GP referral.

Mr Evans said: “For far too long, patients in Wales suffering from mental health issues have felt no other option other than to go to A&E or suffer in silence at home when lifesaving help has been conceivably possible at speed over the phone.”

Speaking at the Senedd, he said: “It's something that I fully believe we need. It needs to be rolled out further, and I'd like to see it going right across Wales and doing more.

“But I think we're doing as much as we can in this current time.”