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Parliament puts focus on mental health

The new Minister for Health, Care and Justice, Neil Costa, slapped down an Opposition motion brought before Parliament on Thursday calling for a review of mental health services in Gibraltar.

The motion was tabled by GSD MP Roy Clinton who described the mental health services as the ‘Cinderella’ of the Gibraltar Health Authority and flagged up gaps in the provision of aftercare to service users and their families.

But Mr Costa rejected the criticism and said the GSLP/Liberals had focused heavily on mental health issues, investing in infrastructure and transforming outdated legislation.

In presenting his motion, Mr Clinton reflected testimonies of service users and their families before the House and highlighted the apparent “lack of care in the community” of discharged service users of Ocean Views and other GHA mental health services.

“One family of a service user told me that this was pretty much left to the family to cope as best as they could and in their words found that ‘Everything is a struggle and depressing’,” he said.

“Mr Speaker, in their view, shocking as it may sound, a cancer or heart patient would receive more support, community sympathy and care than a mental health service user.”

“They see no continuation of care between the GHA and social services,” Mr Clinton stated.

He added that the previous GSD administration and the current one “have both being playing catch up” in the provision of new physical infrastructure and legislation.

While a new clinical facility in the Ocean Views hospital and legislation in the form of the Mental Health Act 2016 are “laudable”, Mr Clinton said, they not sufficient in themselves to provide the complete care that service users and families of service users need.

Mr Clinton’s comments were shot down by Mr Costa who immediately indicated that he would be moving an amended motion.

“There is no lack of care,” Mr Costa exclaimed.

“For the Honourable Member to even suggest that ‘perhaps’ we on these benches lack the heart and the dedication to take care of persons experiencing mental health issues is unfair and entirely a partisan political attack with no substance,” he added.

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