Deputy calls for mental health services review

AN INDEPENDENT review of Guernsey’s mental health services is needed to discover how local services are operating.

Deputy Lester Queripel. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29987184)
Deputy Lester Queripel. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29987184)

The call has come from Deputy Lester Queripel, who has raised concerns about the standard of services and the way Health & Social Care oversees them.

He said he was dissatisfied with many of the answers to 30 questions he lodged under rule 14 in the States rules of procedure, which sought to shine a light on a crucial area of health for a growing number of islanders.

The response revealed that nearly 300 people are employed in local mental health services, but 66 roles are vacanr.

‘Since the first lockdown, I have had reports from people in need and one of the people who has spoken to me, who had been treated by HSC’s mental health team, lodged a formal complaint but nothing was done,’ Deputy Queripel said.

‘My questions were to find out if the mental health services were coping and to ensure they had qualified staff doing the jobs they are supposed to when I have been told they are not,’ he said.

‘HSC did volunteer that a review had taken place but I am not satisfied with some of the answers.

‘What really needs to happen is an independent review conducted by mental health professionals not in any way connected with HSC.’

In response, HSC said that the service was reviewed during 2018-19 but it was conducted on the basis that it would not be shared outside the committee.

‘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,’ HSC said.

Deputy Queripel said he assumed HSC would tell him who did the review and the specifics of what was identified as good practice, and what was not good enough, but the HSC review was private.

‘There seems to be a huge reluctance to do an independent view – a review that is comprehensive with no stone unturned and, most importantly, independent and public.

‘An independent review will come down to costs and they [the States] will say we can’t afford it and then everyone will continue to go unchallenged.

‘What is the point in dissatisfied patients complaining to any States department? They are complaining to the very people they’re complaining about. I am not satisfied and I will be following up with further rule 14 questions asking HSC to elaborate further on its answers.

‘SC has offered me a tour of the mental health services but I want to be able to take a couple of people with me who have used the services and reported unprofessional behaviour in the past. It has to be users of the service with me otherwise it just sounds like I am making up the complaints which have been ignored.’

Guernsey Mind executive director, Emily Litten, said HSC had had an external review but not from a standards body.

Mind has had a significant increase in the number of people accessing its services.

‘From May to July this year, Mind has seen 334 people whereas, prior to lockdown, we were seeing two to five people a week,’ she said.

‘There is an acknowledged gap between primary and secondary mental care services. Mind has completely changed our services as we felt we had to include a range of therapy services to meet the growing demand for help.

‘What we are seeing coming through our doors are adults with some sort of trauma which is significantly impacting their lives. The vast majority have been in contact with the States mental health services and have either been discharged – they would say prematurely – or did not meet HSC’s criteria.’

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