‘Underinvestment, dilapidated buildings and patients’ rooms that feel like prison cells’ – damning report into Jersey’s mental health service

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And the service’s estate was described as ‘completely unacceptable’, with many buildings ‘dilapidated, uninviting and not fit for purpose’.

There were also health and safety issues, particularly at Orchard House, where the panel found that facilities were so bad that patients’ rooms were described as feeling ‘like prison cells’.

The Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel has now made 21 recommendations to improve mental-health services. It is calling on the government to:

  • Publish a list of outcome-based measures to monitor performance in mental health by the end of 2019.
  • Consider establishing a designated Mental Health Minister.
  • Conduct an assessment of which mental-health services could be co-located with the new hospital.
  • Asking service users for their feedback on mental-health services by early next year.

Health Minister Richard Renouf said that his department had already ‘started addressing many of the issues raised’ within the report and added that a Mental Health Improvement Board had been established to ‘drive the required changes forward’.

As part of its review, the panel asked the government what progress had been made since it published its Mental Health Strategy for Jersey in November 2015 – which set out how services would be improved between 2016 and 2020.

The government pointed to several initiatives such as the implementation of new mental-health laws and the Suicide Prevention Programme but also highlighted a number of areas where further work was required.

These areas include creating a place of safety for people experiencing a mental-health crisis and an improved mental-health estate.

In its conclusion the report says: ‘We have found that mental-health services have suffered from a lack of political and executive leadership and a lack of investment over time.

‘This has had a detrimental impact on service users, the staff running mental-health services and the quality of the mental-health estate.’

In response to the findings, Deputy Renouf said a strategy to improve mental-health facilities, a recruitment campaign to fill vacancies and a focus on crisis prevention and intervention were among the key priorities for the Mental Health Improvement Board.

He added: ‘We acknowledge the increasing need for mental-health services and have placed greater emphasis on mental health in our Common Strategic Policy. We are determined to achieve parity of esteem, demonstrating that we value mental health equally with physical health, by providing equal access to effective, safe treatment and care.

‘We have started addressing many of the issues raised in this report.’

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