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HSC summary sparks calls for more scrutiny of mental health services

HSC summary sparks calls for more scrutiny of mental health services

Thursday 02 December 2021

HSC summary sparks calls for more scrutiny of mental health services

Thursday 02 December 2021


The release this week of a summary of an unpublished report written in 2018 has sparked calls for greater political scrutiny of mental health services.

The summary of social worker David Gedze's report provided a glowing commentary on the island's mental health services. But some service users and deputies reacted to the findings with scepticism and the President of the Scrutiny Management Committee said that mental health services would be on her Committee's agenda when it meets next week.

In 2018, the previous Committee for Health & Social Care, then under the Presidency of Deputy Heidi Soulsby, commissioned Mr Gedze to report on its mental health services. His full report was never published.   

When Deputy Lester Queripel asked for the full report at a recent States' meeting, the current President of the Committee, Deputy Al Brouard, said: "The report was not commissioned on the basis that it would be shared beyond the organization - to enable staff to speak candidly to the reviewer and importantly due to the sensitive nature of the report content. The report therefore cannot be shared.”

On Monday, the Committee published a summary of the report. The summary stated: "Guernsey has good mental health services, which in many ways are as good as or better than those in most countries in the world. The services are well resourced, providing a wide range of clinical interventions to meet the needs of the population."

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Pictured: The publication by the Committee for Health & Social Care of a glowing summary of a report on mental health services written in 2018 was met with some scepticism by current and former politicians and members of the public.

Deputy Queripel said that a summary of the full report did not provide adequate transparency.

“The Committee for Health & Social Care appears to have addressed all of the recommendations made by Mr Gedze. But of course the community has no way of knowing if that has resulted in the level of improvement Mr Gedze was focusing on when he made those recommendations," said Deputy Queripel.

“The only way to establish that would be by undertaking the comprehensive review by a non-biased independent body for which I’ve been calling for several months now. 

“The Committee has said that it has no intention of undertaking that review and instead is focusing its efforts on establishing a crisis centre here in the island. So the reality is that we’re at an impasse and one deputy, in isolation, can only do so much.”

Deputy Lester Queripel

Pictured: Following publication of a summary of a report he asked for in full, Deputy Lester Queripel said: “I’ll now have to take some time to consider what to do next."

Express asked the President of the Scrutiny Management Committee, Deputy Yvonne Burford, if the summary report would be put before her committee.

“The Scrutiny Management Committee will be discussing this issue at its next meeting which is on Tuesday 7 December,” said Deputy Burford.

Some deputies suggested that not all patients or staff working with patients see mental health services in the overwhelmingly positive light reflected in the published summary of Mr Gedze's report.

"I am concerned that some of those working in the service and some service users may not readily recognise this report with their experience of the current service in 2021," said Deputy Gavin St Pier.

"Given the commendable commitment to continuous improvement, I hope Mr Gedze will also have the opportunity to meet service users or those that represent them when he visits in the New Year.

"It's very unusual to commission a summary of a report three years after it was delivered. It's not obvious and hasn't been explained why this wasn't published at the time."

Deputy Gavin St Pier

Pictured: On the same day as announcing that he was launching a new political party - called Future Guernsey - Deputy Gavin St. Pier said that any future assessment of mental health services should give a strong voice to service users and professionals who deliver the services.

Deputy St Pier said that he was considering using the States' Rules of Procedure to submit formal questions to the Committee for Health & Social Care but added that he "will want to discuss that with others before doing so".

Separately, at the next States' meeting on 15 December, States' members will have an opportunity to ask Deputy Brouard questions on any area of his Committee's responsibilities, including mental health services, because it is his Committee's turn to provide the Assembly with an update statement on its work and then to answer other members' questions without notice.

Express invited comments from the mental health charity Mind and had not received a reply by the time of publication.

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