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Crisis support centre "will hopefully open within six months"

Crisis support centre

Thursday 30 September 2021

Crisis support centre "will hopefully open within six months"

A mental health "crisis support centre" could be up and running within six months, however there are few details in the public domain about how or where it will operate.

Health & Social Care President said the pilot scheme - an agreed workstream in the Government Work Plan - is HSC's next move to improve mental health services locally, following questions from Deputy Lester Queripel.

Deputy Queripel recently asked an extensive list of questions to Health & Social Care about the island's mental health services.

The information has now been published, however Deputy Queripel is dissatisfied with some of the answers received and posed further questions in the States to drill down into these issues.

He wanted more detail about the most recent review of services - conducted across 2018/19 - and is calling for a fully independent review of mental health services, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy Lester Queripel

Pictured: Earlier this year, Deputy Queripel asked HSC for an assurance that the service is able to cope with the increase in mental health needs brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy Brouard said that report – which would not be provided to Deputy Queripel in full because of its “sensitive content” - concluded that Guernsey’s mental health services “are well resourced with excellent facilities.”

The report also identified a need to restructure parts of the service “to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of care delivery”, but Deputy Brouard said those improvements had been made, offering a short, high-level summary of the changes made. 

He reiterated that the most recent review “was never intended to be published and was written with this in mind, on the basis that this would allow more candour and provide staff with the freedom to speak openly.”

“That said, in line of the ongoing interest from Deputy Queripel, HSC has asked its authors to prepare a summary of its findings and recommendations for publication."

However, this development gave Deputy Queripel fresh concerns, as he had previously been told that staff confidentiality was one of the main grounds for not providing him with a copy of the report. 

“You can’t have it both ways Deputy Queripel”

“Were staff consulted on the recommendations and findings now being published?” he asked. 

Deputy Brouard told Deputy Queripel that "you can’t have it both ways”.

“We will filter out some of the findings and do it without naming names. It is our attempt to address your concerns. If you don’t want us to do this work, we are very happy not to. Please advise us, because it will come at expense and it will take time.”

Once that summary is complete, Deputy Brouard urged Deputy Queripel to meet with him and key HSC staff to talk through it, something Deputy Queripel refused to do with his latest set of written questions, as he wanted formal responses “that cannot not be disputed” at a later date.

He said many constituents have come to him with their negative experience of mental health services. He asked if he could bring some of them along with him to such a meeting, something Deputy Brouard said would not be suitable.

“It would not be appropriate for members of the public with mental health concerns to be at that particular meeting,” he said, before adding: “I am happy for Deputy Queripel to attend any meetings with a service user as their McKenzie Friend.”


Pictured: The brief overview for a crisis support centre that was published in the Government Work Plan. 

Deputy Queripel’s preferred solution, he emphasised, was a “fully public, stand-alone review” of mental health services. 

Former HSC President Heidi Soulsby intervened to say that services “have been reviewed out of existence” in recent years, some proactively, and other areas of mental health services in response to specific incidents. 

It was a review by the Director of Public Health that spawned the idea for a new, specialist mental health ‘crisis centre’, which was approved as a high-level priority in the GWP.

There are scant details about this idea in the public domain to date. 

“We are going to progress the crisis centre pilot,” Deputy Brouard said. “At the present moment, there is no intention of doing a comprehensive review of the island’s mental health services. We think it [the support centre] is a better use of our time and resources.”

It is not yet known where the centre will be based, its staffing levels, opening hours or what services it will offer. 

“It may sound impressive to some people - but what does it actually entail?” asked Deputy Queripel.

The HSC President said the precise details are still being developed.

“What it actually entails is literally as the words are…we are gathering together to get a crisis centre into play that is available to islanders who at any given time have some mental health needs that can be serviced in a different format than we have now by using a crisis centre.

“It will take a few months, we are hoping to have it within six months. I don’t know what extra information he wants to know. I think starting the pilot is good news to islanders.”

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