SILKWORTH LODGE CHARITY at Scrutiny
Scrutiny has been rumbling along for the past few weeks looking at the Health and Housing White Papers and the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).
The same Ministers and their teams of officers have been appearing more often than a number 18 bus as witnesses to explain their proposed policies.
Tomorrow (Wednesday 1 August) Sen Ozouf will be in the hot seat again to justify his MTFP before the Corporate Services Panel (3pm) and he will be followed by CM Gorst (4.30pm).
Same old PR stuff again I expect. Everything is wonderful. Times are tough but
Jersey is still the leading Finance Centre in the world and our economy is as sound as a bell…
Yesterday however there was an extraordinary and different account from witnesses before the Health, Social Security and Housing Panel. The Panel consisted of just Deputies Hilton and Reed (with an adviser who mumbles his name). The witnesses were Frank Laine and Jason Wyse from the Silkworth Lodge Charity Group and they delivered a startling and shocking criticism of Health Department policies and behaviour.
Constable Murphy of Grouville sat in the public seats as an observer and Trustee of the Charity.
To say that the whole room was shocked by their account is no exaggeration.
Silkworth has been delivering an essential re-habillitation service in
Jersey for alcoholics and drug users for decades.
Such is their level of expertise at Silkworth that many clients are referred to them from outside
Jersey. In fact Guernsey sends more than any other agency and regulators say that Silkworth would be in the top three of similar establishments if it was on the mainland. UK
Silkworth in Jersey claims never to turn anybody away who needs help but its 12 bed spaces are costed-out at up to £2,000 each per week – although six are offered locally at £600 - and this unique service is an essential facility in this Island where alcohol and drug abuse is such a seriously destructive problem.
The “Priory” in
charges £5,000 they explained, so Silkworth is providing a top-notch service at a very reasonable cost. England
Thousands of people have benefited from the work at Silkworth over the years – not just those directly treated because as the witnesses explained, the tentacles of destruction affect so many relatives and friends of those who receive treatment.
Yet the Health Department has pulled the financial bung. The Service Level Agreement appears to have been arbitrarily cancelled and no more clients have been referred to Silkworth this year by the Health Department or its agencies.
As the witnesses explained, Silkworth had actually been paid the final payment of £200,000 of public money but no more clients have been sent and as they said - any other charity would be afraid to declare this in public because it would be damaging to the relationship with government.
That was the most frightening thing because the witnesses were not just complaining about the failure of the Health Department to communicate or negotiate with them – they were also expressing disgust that the whole
Jersey charitable sector was in danger of being sucked into government control. A large part of the third sector is in a state of anxiety about what is going in, with threats of withdrawal of SLAs or contracts between government and charitable providers.
And they spoke too about “Roseneath”, the Charitable home closed down before last Xmas after Health had pulled out the financial rug.
The witnesses had attempted to secure Roseneath after the failure to join with Silkworth but in spite of negotiations and meetings with Health Department officers had only just this week, read in the local media, that Health had trumped them and secured it for itself.
The irony is of course that the Health White Paper declares that it – the Health Department - will provide alcohol and drug treatment in
Jersey as part of the whole new package of care in the community etc.
But who, asked the witnesses, is actually going to provide this treatment, if Silkworth does not?
We hope to return with a video report on this matter shortly….