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Waiting List Backlog And Mental Health Funding Concerns

A government official has admitted that there might not be enough money in the Government Plan to meet the huge demand for mental health support in Jersey.

The Health and Social Security Panel held a public hearing with health department officials about the spending plans for the next four years.

£2million has been budgeted for 2022 in a 'health recovery fund' to improve the quality and access to mental health services.

That increases to £3.8million per year from 2023 until 2025.

The government has vowed to continue to work on implementing a new model of community-focused CAMHS services and increase access to assessments, treatment, and support for children and young people.

"We'll be setting up emergency specialist CAMHS home treatment liaison team that can in-reach into Robin (Ward) and into Orchard House and also outreach into the community and into young people's homes.

"This service will operate seven days a week from 12pm to 12am.

"The service is going to be delivered by increasing medical staffing capacity to support new pathways, there is going to be additional capacity to run an integrated perinatal mental health service, also additional capacity to run neuro-developmental clinics and an integrated therapy offer, including a paediatric health psychology offer.

"We'll also be expanding capacity to support adolescents transitioning from CAMHS into adult mental health."

Deputy Kevin Pamplin, who is a member of the scrutiny panel, questioned how these different plans will be prioritised and questioned whether £2million was enough for 2022.

He asked why £3.8million wasn't made available for next year.

"The costs of providing services do rise and those people who we employ are going to have pay rises, are going to have increases in their pensions.

"A lot of these people are nursing staff, health visitors, these people each year get an automatic rise in their pay because of their experience, their time served.

"That £3.5million is to build in those allowances." - Deputy Pointon.

With adult mental health, the project to build a dedicated acute adult mental health facility at Clinique Pinel continues to be plagued by delays.

The original target date for completion was early next year, but a new date of September 2022 has now been set.

Isabelle Watson, who is the Associate Managing Director of Adult Social Care, admits that there may not be enough money in the government plan to meet the demand.

She says outside help may be needed to bring down the backlog of referrals and waiting lists for mental health support.

"We need to address the amount of people we have - for example - for autism, ADHD, also JTT (Jersey Talking Therapies) so there's a combination to look at and it's important that we look at all these lists together."

The scrutiny panel also heard that the backlog in the waiting list for breast screenings in Jersey goes back around one year.

The Health Minister says extra clinics are being scheduled and more staff are being brought in to help.

Nearly £1.3million has been set aside next year to deal with the long waiting lists - which is also affecting bowel screenings.

The Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel is questioning whether that is enough.

Caroline Landon, the Director-General for Jersey's Health Department, thinks it is sufficient.

"Of course, there are patients out there that haven't been accessed and haven't been screened and this money is absolutely to ensure that we can put on additional activity and additional capacity to reach those patients.

"I think that we are utilising the money as effectively as we can. Of course, if we need more money, we will come back and ask for that."

The Health Minister says he's concerned that not enough people are coming forward for cervical screenings in Jersey.

An awareness campaign is planned to help tackle this.

Extra clinics are running to deal with a waiting list backlog, but Deputy Richard Renouf says all will be up to date by the end of this year.

Around 7,200 women received cervical screening.

Channel 103 has asked the Government of Jersey how many screenings took place in 2020 and so far in 2021.

"With significant waiting lists and the crucial need for improvements in mental health facilities and children’s health services, the Panel questions whether the proposed budget allocated to these areas within the Government Plan will adequately cover these costs." - Deputy Mary Le Hegarat, Chair of the Health and Social Security Panel.

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