Tuesday, July 31, 2012



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 UK regulators say that Silkworth would be in the top three of similar establishments if it was on the mainland.

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 England charges £5,000 they explained, so Silkworth is providing a top-notch service at a very reasonable cost.

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….


  1. Being involved in a charity I can full understand where they are coming from. Although the government say the want to out source to the third sector and make it sound in the best interest for everybody it will be on the terms that H&SS want and they will want to pay little if anything for charities to provide it. Knew this was coming ages ago but I dont think a lot of charities understand the full implications and the costs involved by taking on H&SS work. Well done for speaking out.

  2. I am in total shock at this revelation. I have always been a supporter of the valuable work that Silkworth Lodge does with it's '12 steps programme' which is instrumental in the recovery of addicts, and as has so been rightly said those who get caught up in the tentacles of this illness, families and friends.

    I have first hand experience of the tremendous amount of good work and dedication that this charity offers as my son was a client in the early days of its opening, and it has certainly gone from strength to strength and an awful lot of people are now clean, thanks to their committment to those suffering from addiction.

    Sorry to say this, but the Drugs and Alcohol Service do NOT offer the same level of service or the only programme that works. Hence I fail to see how the States will provide anything that delivers anything like Silkworth can and does. I personally hope there will be a huge outcry about this.

    Likewise the situation with Roseneath. It was known before the charity was 'closed down' that the States were going to purchase the building, so the recent news was in fact old news. As Roseneath it was a valuable halfway house for those 'moving on', with equally dedicated staff. As I understand it, and whilst appreciating the good work the Shelter Trust undertake, it will not be a clean house, so is this where the clients that SHOULD without any doubt be in Silkworth be going??

    It rather all falls into place, but I will only state again that it will not offer or deliver on the recovery rate that Silkworth does.

    This is another travesty/States cock-up.

  3. what about all the people who are ill who do not get help these people do this to them selfs because they want two they get more help then real people who do not ask to be ill but get no help

  4. Drugs and Alcohol are not a “sexy” charitable activity. Addiction is the dark side of Jersey society, which few are prepared to acknowledge exists.

    It took a lot of courage for Silkworth management to speak out about the situation in which they find themselves. Others in the charitable sector might not have done so for fear of loosing future funding – such is dependence. That Silkworth did express their concerns indicates there is something very amiss here. Health & Social Services must be asked to explain in a transparent fashion. Will Scrutiny provide sufficient degree of follow up and accountability having laid bare the issue?

    It sounds as though there is some kind of turf war going on, with H&SS clandestinely withdrawing its support for an organisation to which it was paying a substantial amount of public money. £200,000 has been paid and six beds lie idle.

    The change of policy begun in October last year, since when there has been a total absence of referrals from H&SS. The Guernsey health department has been sending patients for many years and continues to do so.

    There was mention of Rosneath that provided a service for those needing accommodation on their way back into society. The organisation closed down suddenly and the building has been acquired by H&SS for its property portfolio in a way that sounds like they are playing Monopoly.

    There was talk of anxiety amongst the 3rd Sector at the current White Paper and the absence of communication in general. Service level agreements we heard are for one year only in Jersey, whilst in the UK they are for a minimum of three years. Such short term contracts make long term planning difficult, particularly in terms of commitment to staff.

    It will be interesting to see if Jersey’s corporate media investigates what seem to be fairly serious allegations. They like to attend Scrutiny meetings when the “big hitters” turn up to announce new policies and drop tit bits of news worthy (ie headlines) information.

    Dependence is a major problem in the island and its time to acknowledge the fact.

  5. I understand from reliable sources that a scheduled television debate between Rachel Williams from the Health Department and Jason Wyse ( CEO Silkworth Charity Group ) has been cancelled on the instruction of the Health Department Sources. Surely the television appearance tonight would have been the most appropriate forum to further explain to the public the true nature of this present situation. That is providing there is nothing to hide !!!!!!!