Confusion surrounds whether the man appointed to lead and transform Jersey’s mental health provision will stay on permanently to steady the troubled service or not.
The Government has suggested Andy Weir - an experienced nurse of 25 years - may be able to stay on when his 12-month secondment ends, even though his NHS managers expect him to return.
It was announced that Mr Weir had taken up position as the island’s new ‘Director of Mental Health Services and Adult Social Care’ last week, but his temporary status was not mentioned anywhere in the press release.
His secondment from the Leeds and York NHS Partnership Trust was only revealed when Express uncovered a statement put out by the organisation’s Deputy CEO, which described his move to Jersey as a “short break” and said he would be returning as Deputy Chief Operating Officer in a year's time.
The decision to appoint an individual who may be leaving at the end of the year comes despite the mental health services going through a period of turbulence, having been without an official service head since September, and having recently been the subject of a critical £12,000 independent clinical review.
It concluded that poor leadership was damaging the mental health care individuals in need are receiving, and that there were inadequate systems in place to learn from serious incidents.
When asked why, in light of this, the Government had only opted to fill the leading role with a temporary placement, a spokesperson said the secondment “was Mr Weir’s choice to expedite the move into the new job.”
When Express challenged this explanation, a spokesperson then revealed that it was not possible to fill the leading mental health role on a permanent basis.
This was because a decision had been taken to combine the role with elements of the Health’s Managing Director’s brief, rather than seeking an individual to take on the same role as previous mental health service leader Dr Miguel Garcia.
Pictured: The Government decided against replacing Dr Miguel Garcia's role like-for-like and restructured it in a way that meant no one could be hired on a permanent basis. It has not explained the rationale for this restructuring.
“The role of Director of Mental Health and adult Social Care is part of the back cover for Rob Sainsbury’s role as Group Managing Director. Rob is on secondment to the role as Interim Director General of CYPES for nine months and the role cannot be filled on a permanent contract,” they said.
They later added that “the use of secondments is common practice for temporary cover and in this provides dedicated senior management leadership to the Mental Health and Adult Social Care teams.”
Express has not received a direct explanation as to why it was decided that the mental health role should be combined with some of Mr Sainsbury’s former responsibilities, particularly as this restructuring has prevented a permanent replacement from being sought at a time when a critical review has called for strength and stability at the top levels of the service.
Despite three separate requests, Express has not received any reply as to why the current temporary nature of Mr Weir’s placement was not directly communicated to the public.
Pictured: The Government of Jersey has not explained why its press release did not make clear that Mr Weir's appointment was a temporary one.
However, the Government went on to suggest that the door was open to Mr Weir to become a permanent member of staff, saying: “The long term position in relation to this role is dependent on the outcome of both secondments.”
But this appears to conflict with the Leeds and York NHS Partnership Trust’s understanding of the situation, with their statement about Mr Weir’s secondment maintaining “this is not goodbye”. When Express contacted the Trust to clarify the matter, the Trust stood by its statement, saying that it had "nothing further to add."
Following the announcement of Mr Weir’s appointment, some islanders and Health staff had raised concerns that Mr Weir had been investigated in relation to alleged bullying, as reported in The Independent in 2015, even though it did not lead to any formal management action.
The Government confirmed that it was "aware of the unproven historic allegations” from around eight years ago, and that it had “discussed these with him prior to his appointment", adding: “Contrary to reports, Mr Weir did not receive a significant [£170,000] exit payment; he received payment in lieu of notice in line with his contract.”
A spokesperson confirmed that he was "selected from other candidates" for the role, and said: “It is clear that Mr Weir has been very successful in his previous senior leadership role with responsibility for a large mental health and learning disability provision and system development with no issues of concern. We are not able to comment any further on these historic allegations.”
They said they are also “aware of the HR Lounge Report”, which found in 2018 that there were widespread cultural issues within the Government, including bullying, harassment and intimidation. Particular issues within the Health Department were among the catalysts for commissioning the report.
The spokesperson did not share details of Mr Weir's salary, accommodation and expenses arrangements, but noted: “The salary for this role is in line with those of similar leadership roles within the Government of Jersey at Director level."
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