Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (FP)??

Some public servants are proving to be hindrances to Public Sector Reform with their antiquated way of thinking and doing things.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, made this observation recently in relation to the work of some community mental health nurses who, as their title suggests, are expected to be out in the community working, but because of the old way of thinking by some of their supervisors, were required to be physically present at the Psychiatric Hospital, Black Rock, St. Michael, in order to receive promotion down the line.

"That is not what a 21st century public service should be like; public health is a place that is in serious need of reform.

You have to seek to bring these services to the individuals in their communities and do not stagnate or stop your staff from moving up the line because they are not sitting behind a desk in a building somewhere on Black Rock. You have to think and operate differently than you have in the past," he stressed.

Mr. Inniss pointed out that Government recognised the cost associated with institutionalising those with mental illnesses and, therefore, was seeking to take mental health services back to the community. There are presently 16 mental health nurses functioning within various communities.

These services are available at most of the polyclinics and the Health Minister suggested that additional staff might be deployed to work in this field. This would take some of the pressure off of the Psychiatric Hospital and the Royal Barbados Police Force, since the mental health nurse would go into the individual’s home, assess the situation, talk to relatives and find workable solutions that involved the entire family or community, Mr. Inniss asserted.

"The first course is not always to call the police and the mental health officer, and throw them in the back of the van, and take them to a jail house until you get them to Black Rock…. he said.

The Ministry of Health, he noted, would continue to expand mental health services in the public sector because it was not only about having additional psychiatrists, but also "good social workers, psychologists and others who can make a contribution at that community level."


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