The man newly appointed to lead and transform Jersey's troubled mental health service is only on secondment, and will return to his NHS role in 12 months’ time, it has emerged.
But when the Government announced Andy Weir’s appointment as ‘Director of Mental Health Services and Adult Social Care’ last week, the fact he is only on a temporary placement was not mentioned anywhere in the press release.
The decision to appoint a temporary leader comes despite the mental health services going through a period of turbulence, 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.
After the departure of previous service head Dr Miguel Garcia-Alcaraz, who is continuing his clinical psychiatry work, there were hopes among staff, service users and their families that an experienced permanent replacement would be recruited to steady the ship.
Pictured: Dr Miguel Garcia-Alcaraz, the previous Associate Medical Director for Mental Health, left in September, Express revealed last year.
The Government announced the appointment of Mr Weir - a registered mental health nurse of 25 years - in a press release last Tuesday, the day after he took up his new role.
It explained that he had worked in senior roles across Brixton, Buckinghamshire and West London, and that he “has been the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for the past four years” - but did not mention that he would be returning to this role in 2023.
That was only revealed in a Tweeted statement from Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO, Dawn Hanwell, which described the placement in Jersey as a “short break”. It thanks him for his service, but notes "this isn't a goodbye". Mr Weir's own Twitter profile, meanwhile, says that he is "having an adventure in Jersey".
Last week, Express asked the Government why it opted for a temporary rather than permanent appointee, and why this fact was not openly declared. A response is still yet to be received.
Ms Hanwell described Mr Weir as an individual who “inspires, motivates and encourages the people around him every day”, who “has a famous ‘no nonsense’ approach”.
Since his appointment was announced, questions have been raised by some islanders over a 2015 report from The Independent, which claimed that Britain’s largest mental health trust spent a year investigating “multiple allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment” against Mr Weir, the then-Executive Director of Specialist and Forensic Services, and that he was handed a £170,000 package after being suspended for a year on full pay.
While a spokesperson for West London Mental Health Trust said at the time that an independent investigation "did not lead to any formal management action against Andy Weir", who took on a new job before the end of the investigation, but simply "highlighted concerns with the culture in forensic services”, the report is understood to have nonetheless troubled some Health staff in Jersey.
Pictured: The Government of Jersey press release did not make clear that the appointment was a temporary one.
The number of allegations of intimidating behaviour within Health were among the catalysts for the damning 2018 review by HR Lounge. The consultants, whose findings were only made public after an Express challenge under the Freedom of Information Law, uncovered a “high level” of bullying within the public sector, and a culture where employees had allegedly been “shouted at”, “belittled” and made the subject of “loose talk and gossip”. Further reviews conducted in 2021 revealed that concerns about bullying and intimidating behaviour remain.
Express has also asked the Government for comment on the 2015 report in The Independent and is awaiting a reply.
Last week, Assistant Minister Deputy Trevor Pointon, who has delegated responsibility for mental health, commented: "Andy has an accomplished record at transforming and shaping mental health services across a wide range of settings. I'm delighted to announce his appointment to the role as his experience will be invaluable in helping to enhance Jersey's Health and Social Services."
Mr Weir added: "I'm really excited about this opportunity to lead and develop mental health services in Jersey. While I recognise that there are challenges currently facing the services, during my recent visit to the island I also observed significant amounts of commitment, expertise and opportunities to develop.
"I believe my breadth of experience in mental health and senior leadership experience, alongside my partnership approach will prove beneficial in supporting the development of these services."
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