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GHA strengthens frontline mental health services

The Gibraltar Health Authority has recruited an additional ‘Approved Mental Health Professional’ as part of efforts to enhance frontline mental health services locally.

The role, which was formerly known as a Mental Welfare Officer, aims to address a rise in demand for assessments under the Mental Health Act to protect and safeguard vulnerable persons.

These include “sensitive and challenging” assessments including cases in which vulnerable persons could be deprived of their liberty without their consent and accommodated in hospitals or care homes for their wellbeing.

“I work alongside the Approved Mental Health Professionals to achieve the very best possible clinical outcomes for our patients at all times, and make certain that the relevant legislation is always adhered to, ensuring the safeguarding of our most vulnerable patients,” said Suzanne Romero, Clinical Nurse Manager for Primary Care and Operational Lead for Approved Mental Health Professionals.

The additional appointment comes against the background of increasing awareness of mental health issues in the community and questions as to whether the GHA is prepared to address the demand for associated services.

The team, which previously consisted of three Mental Welfare Officers, will now consist of four Approved Mental Health Professionals.

“They will deliver comprehensive and holistic care to the community, and they will be able to identify health and social factors that precipitate acute mental health crises,” the GHA said in a statement.

The team will further ensure that the GHA is operating a full service in any case where deprivation of liberty is necessary, including completing assessments in a timely manner to the highest standards.

The additional appointment follows the enactment of the Mental Health Act 2016 and the Lasting Powers of Attorney and Capacity Act 2018.

“This welcome expansion follows the recent announcement of the new Child and Adolescent Psychology Service, set to commence in January 2019, and the appointment of an additional Consultant Psychologist, which commenced on the 15th of October,” said Neil Costa, the Minister for Health, Care and Justice.

“It is imperative that we, as a public health service, provide persons within our community with swift and easy-to-access avenues when it comes to receiving assistance and treatment for mental health issues.”

“My mental health teams and I continue our work to endeavour to improve and to create a better and more responsive mental health service to meet the needs our community.”

“I very much look forward to making additional statements in respect of planned measures to our Mental Health Services.”

A walk-in service will be provided with clinics held at the Primary Care Centre from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.

The enhanced team will also continue to provide a 24 hour ‘on-call’ service, which has been in place since July last year, along with a Consultant Psychiatrist and Registered Nurse to address any crisis or need in the community out of normal working hours. The team may be reached on 2000 7831.

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