Mental Welfare Society Reacts To Mental Health Board Report: Many Issues Raised “Of Great Concern”

The Gibraltar Mental Welfare Society (GMWS) has reacted to the 2018/2019 report submitted by the Mental Health Board. This Board is charged with satisfying itself “as to the state of the Ocean Views facility, the Community Mental Health facility (CHMT), their administration and their treatment of patients.”

GMWS says that many issues are raised in the report which are “of great concern.”

A statement continued: “The report points out a number of flaws in the system and makes the overall comment that “there is an increasing and vital need to establish an overall cohesive strategy for mental health”.  This is something which resonates with the GMWS which has been making this point for several years.

“The flaws picked up by the Board cover a wide variety of issues, ranging from inefficiencies in the administrative system, to breaches of human rights in the detention of some patients."

GMWS has provided the following examples:

A lack of adequate clerical support in both OV and CHMT, resulting in long delays and inefficient processing of data;

The lack of the regular attendance of a pharmacist, which increases the risk of prescribing error;

Section papers and Consent to Treatment Certificates inspected were found wanting;

Serious concern about the monitoring of Lithium; (in contrast to the ‘well-run Clozapine clinic’)

No regular, programmed GP visits result in otherwise unnecessary visits to the Primary Care Centre, necessitating staff accompaniment and reducing ward staff availability to ensure that other patients have access to the activities they’re entitled to; no regular visits from GP means some patients might not receive adequate medical care;

Lack of effective Discharge and Care programmes;

Too many patients “receiving a surprising number of drugs”;

Lack of necessary budget to cover ARC activities and outings, accompanying staff at times having to pay for patients’ coffees etc. out of their own pocket;

Rehabilitation flats in OV and in Kent House are not functioning as they should because there is not the necessary staff support available.

A statement continued: “These and other issues in the report do not come as a surprise to the GMWS but when written in black and white, they acquire even more significance.

“It is clear to anybody reading the report, that much needs to be done to ensure that best practice prevails in our mental health provision. It is crucial that all staff have the necessary training and that clear guidelines and protocols are in place. The necessary support in terms of structures and staffing complement would ensure that they can perform their duties to the best of their ability. The report underlines the fact that staff was found to be committed to their work.

“This report was submitted at the end of March 2019 and has only now been made public. One has to wonder at the efficiency of a system which takes a year to present such a report. It means, of course that the 2019/20 report must have been submitted at the end of March 2020. This is the report that we should be commenting on now. Until this report is made public, the GMWS cannot officially know if any of the many issues raised have been tackled and improved on. We sincerely hope we shall not have to wait for another year to know this. We are still waiting for the publication of the Mental Health Audit, carried out in March 2019, which has still not seen the light of day.”

YGTV has contacted the Government for a response.