A deputy's request for sight of a review into Guernsey's mental health services has been denied - because of its "sensitive content" - with HSC adamant that almost all of its recommendations have been implemented.
Deputy Lester Queripel asked an extensive list of questions to Health & Social Care about the island's mental health services.
The information - which HSC says took a combined 37 hours of staff and political time to compile - has now been published, however Deputy Queripel is dissatisfied with some of the answers received and is preparing further questions to drill down into these issues further.
Speaking to Express, he wants 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.
He asked for a hard copy of the latest report, which HSC said it would be inappropriate to provide.
“The service was reviewed during 2018-19,” said HSC President Al Brouard. “The report was not commissioned on the basis that it would be shared beyond the organisation, 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.
"The report recognised that the 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."
Deputy Brouard believes these recommendations have been satisfied and the service greatly improved.
"Mental health provision has changed from an adult and older adult service to a community and inpatient service, which provides more streamlined care.
Pictured: Mental health service and HSC yearly staff turnover between June 2017 and June 2021, with the data presented representing % headcount.
"Further, the CAMHs service was consolidated to form a single team to improve service user experience, improve flexibility and create staff rotation to deal with crisis, such as immediate risk and admission.
"There is also a single point of access for emergency, urgent and mental health law referrals based within the duty and intervention team. A Consultant Psychiatrist was identified to be the lead Doctor for the acute inpatient facility, which has been implemented, and a middle grade Doctor has been appointed with sole responsibility for the ward which is above the recommendation."
The review reportedly recommended that the service be rebranded to ‘Guernsey Specialist Mental Health Services’ to strengthen the identity of secondary care services and give a greater distinction from primary care services.
This has not been done due to “significant changes within the Government at this time with the corporate rebranding of Committees and it was not approved by the Corporate Management Team primarily due to timing.” It is the only recommendation named by HSC that it says has gone unaddressed.
Meanwhile, latest staff figures show that turnover rates for staff remain consistent with recent years. There are 293 full-time positions currently occupied across Guernsey's mental health services.
Pictured: Vacancies for band 5 nurses are historically the most difficult to fill. However, given the continued national shortage of nurses, HSC said this "is not unexpected."
Vacancies are having to be covered by agency, bank staff and overtime for permanent staff, said Deputy Brouard.
"At the time of writing there are 66 vacant posts across the mental health service in the community, inpatient care, the primary care mental health service and psychiatry. Within these organisational units, a wide range of posts from the multi-disciplinary team are vacant.
"In order not to cause any undue disruption to any of the mental health services, these vacancies are currently supplemented by bank and agency staff and through overtime working."
The questions and answers can be read in full HERE.
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