Scrutiny questions Social Security Minister on assessment delays for Long Term Care Scheme

22nd September 2023

Yesterday (21st September), the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel (the Panel) held a Quarterly Public Hearing with the Minister for Social Security, Deputy Elaine Millar. 

The Panel questioned the Minister on the significant delays in assessment for the Long-Term Care Scheme. The Minister mentioned wait times within other departments and acknowledged the need to have the different elements of the assessment occur simultaneously rather than one after the other. The Minister stressed the importance of individuals contacting the team promptly if they require support, as payments for care can be backdated up to six months to when the need for assistance was first communicated. The Panel felt that the reasons for delays were not clear enough and were concerned about the uncertainty around the number of “informal carers” in the Island. 

The Panel asked about the £20 reduction in General Practice fees, which came into effect in June, and heard that this has not led to a significant increase in the number of patient appointments. The Panel was disappointed to learn that the Minister is giving no consideration to increasing the rebate of this reduction to include home visits, remote consultations, or ‘out of hours’ appointments.  

The Panel also questioned the Minister on: 

  • The Free Period Product pilot scheme: The Panel raised concerns around whether making products available in the selected venues is the best way to help those who are most in need, noting reports that products have been out of stock when Islanders have tried to access them. The Minister responded that the scheme is trying to address a need, and that over 100,000 items have been accessed, but that she is willing to listen to alternative ideas of how best to provide this service. 

  •  Free children’s GP visits: The Panel heard that the scheme to provide free GP consultations for children also covers additional services including blood tests, urine analysis, ECGs, swabs, and referral letters. The Panel asked the Minister whether factors such as improvements to children’s health would determine whether the scheme continues after the initial two-year agreed period. The Panel heard that data around health outcomes would not ordinarily be captured within Social Security. 

  • Living Wage vs Minimum Wage: The Panel sought more clarity on the link between the minimum wage and the living wage and was informed that the calculation and implementation of a Jersey living wage would be complex and could take a number of years. 

Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Panel, said: 

“It appears to the Panel that improved communications between departments could go a long way to smoothing out people’s experiences of using a number of the services and schemes we have discussed in this hearing. For instance, this became apparent in our discussion of Long-Term Care, where there seem to be issues causing significant delays to people getting assessed. Given the current timeline for assessments, the Panel would like to remind the public about the importance of getting in touch with the Long-Term Care team as soon as possible if they feel that they require support.” 

The recording of the hearing can be accessed here.  

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