Guernsey Press

‘HSC is losing interest in third sector partnership’

A LEADING voice in the charitable sector fears the Health & Social Care committee is losing interest in working with agencies outside the States.

Headway director Phillipa Stahelin. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 31907449)

Philippa Stahelin, who leads the brain injury charity Headway, said leadership, commitment and communication have been in decline since the current committee was elected in 2020 and the pandemic.

‘I’m less convinced now that there is real appreciation at HSC of the valuable role of the third sector,’ said Mrs Stahelin, who also chairs the Lloyds Bank Foundation, one of the island’s largest donors to good causes.

‘The third sector is seeing no progress in partnership working. In fact, it’s going backwards.

‘HSC say they are working on it, but I don’t see any evidence of it.

‘It needs leadership and commitment and communication to drive partnership working. I don’t see much of it. I see a lot of fire-fighting. It’s really worrying.

‘There’s just a lot of mediocrity across a lot of what HSC is doing now. They have to up their game.’

In reply, HSC said it was still battling the disruptive effects of the pandemic, but insisted its major programmes of work include strong relationships with other agencies.

‘We experienced significant disruption to services from March 2020 due to Covid-19,’ said the committee.

‘This disruption continues as we work hard to recover services across health and social care and bring waiting lists under control.

‘Each programme evidences significant partnership working and a commitment to the values that are intended to guide the long-term transformation of health and social care.

‘HSC is not aware of increasing concern about its commitment to and resourcing of partnership working and works closely with many organisations to foster a more integrated approach to health and social care.’

Mrs Stahelin said HSC recently removed a specialist post which was invaluable to people with brain injuries and which was 80% funded by Headway for nearly a decade.

‘It was a great partnership between us and the hospital. We were very proud of that partnership. It started from nothing. Here is an example of a service which was working really well,’ she said.

‘Basically, they said they didn’t need the post anymore. I couldn’t get across the disadvantages of that and what would be lost.

‘There was no consultation on this with anybody. None with the brain injury team, none with the neuro-psychologist, none with us. This was a decision made somewhere over there. This is why I ask where the partnership working is now.’

Mrs Stahelin saw more commitment to partnership working when Deputy Heidi Soulsby was HSC president and Mark de Garis was chief secretary.

‘It was happening. I’m not saying it was brilliant. But Heidi and Mark were invested in it big time,’ she said.

‘I don’t see it now. I think we’ve had that partnership and now it has been dismantled. I don’t see any recognition of the consequences of that.

‘We had a first-class service. Maybe it’s no longer possible to have a first class service. But by taking away that service, the way we refer is no longer seamless.

She said what had been a seamless partnership was now fractured services.

‘It’s more time-consuming, less expert, there are more people involved, more pointless steps – it’s not nearly as good for clients.’

Mrs Stahelin said she had waited patiently to see partnership working revived by HSC and regretted the need to criticise knowing the number of hard-working HSC staff.

‘I have a lot of respect for a lot of the people involved. I know they are under great pressure. I don’t want to bash them over the head. But we need to voice these concerns about what is happening because they are real and substantial concerns,’ she said.

‘We’re trying to rebuild our partnership with them and I don’t want to scupper those efforts. But there are some things which need to be out there about the new challenges we are now facing. We have to be the voice of people with brain injuries and their families.’