The GHA has launched a new service to ensure people suffering from mental health issues are rapidly able to access specialist help when they need it.
A liaison nurse with specialist training will be available from 8am to 8pm daily to provide assessment, support and reassurance to service users and their families in times of need.
The nurse liaison will be based at Ocean Views and will also offer advice and support to clinical staff at St Bernard’s Hospital who refer individuals to mental health teams if they require psychological ot psychiatric support.
Having the nurse based at Ocean Views removes the need for service users to attend the Accident & Emergency at St Bernard’s Hospital.
However, should a potential service user attend Accident and Emergency and state they wish to see the nurse, a call will be made and the aim is to have the liaison nurse there within 30 minutes.
The service aims to provide assessments, support and reassurance to both its users and their families.
The Nurse Liaisons are both highly qualified charge nurses, experienced in mental health.
Announcing the new service was Minister for Health, Neil Costa, who said: “The new liaison service will provide an additional tier of support to persons who need to speak to a mental health professional, without having to attend A&E at St Bernard’s Hospital.”
“We cannot, however, stand still, and we must continue to invest in our services. The GHA will not grow in effectiveness and compassion unless we continue to listen to our patients, their families and the mental health support groups that work so hard to represent their members.”
“I wish to sincerely thank my excellent Mental Health teams for their diligent efforts and dedication, as well as their excellent teams, whose contributions and expertise have enabled the successful implementation of these reforms. We continue to work on further improvements, and I very much look forward to make announcements in due course,” he added.
During the service launch press conference Mr Costa also gave a synopsis of other measures that had been untaken in the GHA with regards to mental health.
These include halving waiting lists for psychology services from eight weeks to four weeks.
The new liaison service will ensure daily contact with anyone waiting for an appointment.
Mr Costa also noted that nearly two years ago the Mental Health Team implemented the Outreach Service, led by experienced health care professionals, to provide an additional tier of support, available 24/7, to patients in the community and their families.
He also noted that a future statement is to be expected on the expansion of the supported accommodation service launched in February last year.
This service provides a two bedroom apartment to facilitate smooth transitional discharges of former inpatients of Ocean Views.
These individuals Mr Costa said have moved on from the supported flat to complete independence in their own accommodation.
However to ensure they continue to be well they receive weekly visits from the community services.
The Minister noted the GHA’s dedicated Child and Adolescent Psychology Service (CAHMS) which was introduced in January this year, known as Gibraltar Young Minds (GYM). This service consists of two psychologists and a psychiatrist, who treat young persons, providing on-going therapies on both individual basis and within a family unit.
At present the Psychiatric team is now resourced with four full-time and one part-time consultants, with the aim to recruit one more.
“I am extremely pleased at the important strides we are taking to improve our mental health services. We are now starting to reap the benefits of over a year of planning.”
“It is very satisfying to witness these tangible improvements, especially, the significant reduction in average waiting times to see a psychologist,” said Mr Costa.
Pic by Johnny Bugeja