‘SUBSTANTIAL’ improvements have been made to Jersey’s mental-health service for young Islanders, the Children’s and Education Minister has said.
Deputy Inna Gardiner spoke out following the publication of a critical report from Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment, which raised several concerns about Jersey’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – such as a lack of staff.
The review also concluded that governance of the service – reorganised in 2019 under the much-criticised OneGov operating model – was ‘weak’, and noted that more than a fifth of staff posts set out within a newly launched mental-health strategy were vacant.
Deputy Gardiner said she ‘welcomed’ the report, which she also described as ‘an opportunity to refocus our efforts’.
‘In my previous role as chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I held a hearing with the director generals of CYPES [Children, Young People, Education and Skills Department] and Health and Community Services to understand some of the areas highlighted in the report.
‘These recommendations are also familiar to the CAMHS team, and the service has seen substantial improvements in the last year. Funding in the 2022 Government Plan has allowed us to recruit staff to improve the data CAMHS collects, and the performance and feedback measures the service uses,’ she added.
Deputy Gardiner also said that ongoing recruitment efforts had increased the number of CAMHS staff to 56, up from 21 in mid-2021.
‘This is on track to reach the target of 64.5 staff in 2023. With the increase in staff, the waiting times for assessment, therapy, and autism assessments have reduced. The C&AG report offers us an opportunity to refocus our efforts and move forward to ensure all the recommendations are progressed.’
Health Minister Karen Wilson said: ‘We note the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General and we are glad to see great strides have been made in improving the service in the last year.
‘However, we are always looking to improve our services, especially within mental health. This report will help me and the Minister for Children and Education to ensure adequate governance arrangements are in place going forward.’