No ‘Grave Concerns’ of GSD Plans for Mental Health Facility
The new Mental Health facility will be completed as the GSD envisaged, no grave concerns have arisen; this was confirmed by the Minister for Health, Dr John Cortes, in Parliament on Thursday in answer to questions. The Minister for Health said that the £11m facility will only see £134,000 worth of alterations, linked to sustainable technology, which do not directly impact on the wellbeing of inpatients.
He listed these as £70,000 for LED lights and fittings, £20,000 for a water heating system and £54,000 for 10 solar panels. Other changes include the decision not to build a day facility in the garden area and include it elsewhere, and to include a central pharmacy to cater for the whole former RNH site service users.
It is greatly disappointing that almost from the first day of entering office the GSLP Government chose mental health as a battleground for scoring political points against the former GSD Government. Rather than embracing and building upon the ongoing projects in this discipline of health, the Government opted to use this as an area in which to apply their particular brand of spin, in Dr Cortes Budget Speech he said: There were grave concerns too with the previous Governments direction being given on the new Mental Health facility. Rather than treat the subject with sensitivity and understand the issues, the Minister opted to immediately launch a tirade and dismiss the plans which had been developed in consultation with the mental health professionals.
In January of this year, in an interview to the Chronicle, Dr Cortes said: Prior to the election, the team designing the new facility had not been allowed to listen to what mental healthcare professionals were saying was needed. He said the GSLP: Did not want another asylum, a people warehouse, but rather a modern, therapeutic centre…its not a question of building small rooms and stuffing patients in. In Parliament that same month, Dr Cortes stated: The design for the hospital had not been completed, nor had the staffing needs been identified.
He went on to take full credit for enabling the project: The design is finally virtually complete and work is progressing at last in identifying staffing needs. This was reiterated by him in his Budget Speech of July 2012 where he claimed: I have now approved the detailed plan for the new facility, and Minister Sacramento said in her Budget Speech: That is not to say they will be completed in the same way as the GSD envisaged.
This is in sharp contrast to the Minister for Healths answer to Parliament last week where he said: Given that the design and enabling works at this stage (December 2011) were advanced, the clinicians consulted were of the view that any benefits to undertaking radical re-design and planning at this late stage would be offset by significant time delays to the delivery of the project.
The reality was that by April of 2011, the new Mental Health facility building had already been totally stripped out, ready for the next stage of the project. Plans by the Mental Health Steering Group and the Design Team had been submitted to Government for scrutiny, with the Operational Policy and Workforce Plans already prepared by the team.
In October of this year the Government launched the plans for the new Mental Health facility and hailed it as a flagship project offering modern, therapeutic services; Dr Cortes acknowledged only that the work had been started by the previous GSD administration.
Consider: what this Government has actually contributed financially to the new and modern mental health care facility is less than was spent on the one day Thinking Green Conference and this to an £11M project. Although the environmental considerations are welcome, it is utter hypocrisy on the part of the Minister to take credit for what is the continuation of plans, which were already in place, approved by professionals working with the GSD Government and which have not been meaningfully changed by this Government.
Opposition Spokesman for Health, Isobel Ellul-Hammond said: Once again this is an example of the Government trying to rubbish our record, policies or projects at any opportunity because they know they cannot deliver a program to match.
They first claimed to have grave concerns and then to save the project from disaster; they then try to take credit for it as a GSLP project, because they cannot deliver their own. We repeatedly see this style of spinning the truth from this Government, whether it be with the independent living facility for the elderly at the old St Bernards Hospital site or the facilities at the former RNH site.
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