HSC president grasps the nettle of huge challenges

MENTAL health services on the island are being examined by the new political committee heading up Health & Social Care.

Health & Social Care president Al Brouard. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28912967)
Health & Social Care president Al Brouard. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28912967)

The States currently offers a range of services for people suffering from mental ailments, such as depression, anxiety, addiction and schizophrenia.

Deputy Al Brouard, the new president of Health & Social Care, said getting mental health right was an important focus for the new team: ‘One area that we want to investigate further is we want to have a better understanding of our mental health provision, how it’s working, if there are any improvements and how could that be achieved, so we have asked for this information to be prepared and we will be speaking to our providers and users.’

Within a couple of weeks of being elected to their posts, the new Health & Social Care committee had already made several big decisions on key priorities.

The first was that they were sticking with the ‘partnership of purpose’, the name given to the transformative vision for improving Bailiwick healthcare and making it more affordable.

The next was to take forward the multi-million pound hospital modernisation programme.

Staying the course with those concepts and building on them will mean saving possibly years of time and resources, rather than ripping them up and starting all over again.

Another more immediate priority is Covid-19, and Deputy Brouard explained that they wanted to maintain the cautious approach that has characterised Guernsey’s success: ‘Guernsey is well placed, the track and trace and isolate is in operation and it’s working and it’s keeping Covid under control. The team has no intention of relaxing our rigour.

‘Our borders have defined us for the last thousand years and will continue to do so.’

The issue of nurses’ pay cropped up a lot during the election build-up and it falls under the remit of Policy & Resources because it acts as the States employer.

However, Health & Social Care gives important input and Deputy Brouard set out his position.

‘I did not sign the pledge to be a nurses’ champion because as a member of Policy & Resources last term I’m acutely aware of the complex issues regarding nurses’ pay, it’s not that I’m not supportive of nurses as nothing could be further from the truth, I just didn’t feel it was an appropriate thing to do in the lead-up to the election. As I say the issues of nurses pay and that of all other health and care staff is usually complex and it isn’t as straightforward as just pay more.’

The challenges are huge, Covid aside there is also the ageing demographic, the backlog of treatment, and even the day job of thousands of moving parts.

When he first pitched for the top job, Deputy Brouard made it clear that he had been saddled with it and he was disappointed that no other serious contenders wanted to step up and ‘do the right thing’.

But a few weeks in and he said he was relishing the challenge in the committee that touches the lives of all islanders.

‘I’m delighted. There’s a fantastic team of staff here. I’ve got a really strong political team so I’m very much looking forward to working together with everyone to deliver the very best for the island.’

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