HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

WHAT WE WANT

We believe that Jersey has an over-stretched Health Service and an unsustainably high benefits bill, partly because of the pressure from immigration. To combat this, all new migrants to Jersey will have to make tax and national insurance contributions for five consecutive years before they will become eligible to claim benefits. We therefore propose that if, as we are led to believe, most people come to Jersey to work, rather than simply opportunistically and “on spec”, that those responsible new citizens will have no issue with taking out insurance to cover periods of worklessness and take out approved private Health Insurance to cover anything more than the most urgent of emergency care which will be charged for.

Medicinal Cannabis

Marijuana, or cannabis, as it is more appropriately called, has been part of humanity’s medicine chest for almost as long as history has been recorded.

We believe that the time is right to investigate the use of medicinal cannabis with a view to its legalisation as a treatment for certain conditions. For far too long the debate around this issue has been informed by hysteria, ignorance, prejudice and bigotry and all the while people suffer needlessly or are placed on expensive and dangerous drug regimes. Of all the negative consequences of cannabis prohibition, none is as tragic as the denial of medicinal cannabis to the hundreds of Jersey patients who could benefit significantly from its therapeutic use.

Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief – particularly of neuropathic pain (pain from nerve damage) – nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Medicinal cannabis is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically useful for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that medicinal cannabis’s therapeutic properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumours and are neuroprotective.

One example of a group of patients desperately in need of cannabis-based medicines are Multiple Sclerosis patients, for many of whom there is no effective treatment to control their pain, spasm, incontinence and other symptoms. These patients suffer from the reduction in both mobility and independence which usually accompanies the progression of this and other severe diseases. Cannabis-based medicines could bring significant relief to people who have MS and bring a huge improvement in their quality of life.

MS patients and those with other spasticity disorders are just some of the patients’ groups medicinal cannabis and cannabis based medicines are expected to help. Other groups include people who have AIDS, patients with arthritis, spinal cord injury, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, glaucoma, as well as those with cancer and other terminal or debilitating medical conditions characterized by intractable pain.

Highly effective treatments such as SATIVEX, derived from cannabis and which work as an anti-spasmodic, muscle relaxant and pain killer with very few side effects are only available in Jersey by special permission and if you are prepared to stump up the £450-500 per month such treatment costs. As most people who would need (and would qualify for) SATIVEX are severely disabled and likely to be on benefits it amounts to a de facto ban.

Will the same fate befall drugs like Epidiolex, a new and highly effective treatment for epilepsy, (particularly rare forms of childhood epilepsy) which contains cannabidiol, one of the active chemical compounds found in cannabis? Unless we change our backward looking and ignorance informed policy to one informed by evidence then the answer to that seems like it will be a resounding, “yes”.

Training

We believe that more Jersey people should be encouraged into the medical profession to become Doctors, Nurses, Chemists, and Researchers etc. and we believe that the States of Jersey has a responsibility to ensure that training courses are provided and funded. We are agnostic on whether funding should be on a means tested basis as the benefit of having qualified local staff working in Jersey’s Health Service is an undeniable public good.

Mental Health

We believe in the wholesale improvement of the provision of mental health services. Patients with mental health issues frequently feel ignored and let down. We believe in a “whole person” approach to health and that means giving mental health parity with physical health. We believe that the provision of mental health services will be improved by directing patients diagnosed with debilitating long-term conditions or terminal illnesses to mental health professionals when appropriate.

We must recognise there is often a link between addiction and mental health issues and offer appropriate, tailored treatments where this is the case. We believe it is imperative to fight the stigma around mental illness and support those seeking to get back into work. Patients experiencing distress or exhibiting mental ill-health issues when admitted to hospital should have both their physical health and mental wellbeing assessed.

Nursing Homes

We condemn outright the current fashion of closing State run nursing homes for the elderly and hiving these services out to the private sector. We all have a responsibility for the care of our elderly and it is their taxes which helped pay for the facilities which are often closed down around them and then either demolished for their land value or repurposed to some other non-care cause.

The New Hospital

We believe that the issue of a new hospital building for Jersey has been extremely badly handled. The public mood, particularly over the loss of People’s Park was severely misjudged by Minister Green and the climb down, when it came, instead of being embraced as an opportunity for reconciliation and getting the people of Jersey back on side was both ungracious and begrudging.

We believe that the case for an entirely new hospital building has not been made satisfactorily, at least not satisfactorily enough to justify the suggested costs involved.

We believe that the current site should be redeveloped, planning controls should allow for building upwards to provide additional floor, ward, theatre, treatment spaces and if necessary extend development into Patriotic Street and/or a small section of the Parade Gardens opposite.

We believe that a suitable “plan B” would be the development of the Warwick Farm site. As Simon Crowcroft recently said, “[Warwick Farm] would be building in the Green Zone. I have consistently argued against Green Zone development but in the case of the Island’s hospital, I think that many Members like me who are against development in the Green Zone would make an exception, because it’s such an important facility.”

We believe if an “exception” can be made to build in a Green Zone, then an exception can be made to build on the Gloucester Road site a few stories higher in order to provide the space that’s needed.

Motability

We believe there is a need for a Motability scheme, based on the same scheme successfully running in the UK, to be introduced here in Jersey. Failing this, we believe the states of Jersey could, using its superior purchasing position, buy high cost disability equipment such as electric wheelchairs and scooters which disabled people could then buy from the States with the payments being deducted from mobility benefits/LTIA.

Health Tourism

We believe that although the tightening up on access to Jersey’s health service is moving in the right direction there are still loopholes which can and must be closed.

We further believe that the strain on the health system will be alleviated by implementing immigration controls as outlined herein and by the implementation of the private health insurance requirement for all new residents.

Food Labelling

We believe that Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s Minister for Food was right to say that “animal rights come before religion”. Denmark, Sweden and Norway have all banned the religious slaughter of animals and we believe they were right to do so.

We believe that there should be either; an outright ban on the provision of Halal and/or Kosher “religiously” slaughtered meat and derivative products in Jersey OR the compulsory labelling and licencing of such products and their sale.

We believe that absent of proscription, any such sale of religiously slaughtered meat products should be controlled via a licencing system, available to established butcher shops (not supermarkets) who undertake to sell religiously slaughtered meat in the prescribed manner. Including the stipulation that such meat should be kept separate from all other products as is required by both Jewish and Islamic tradition.

We believe that income generated by the issuance of certificates to sell Halal and Kosher meat products should be ring-fenced and applied to animal welfare causes in Jersey.

Furthermore, we believe that all supermarkets selling meat products should clearly label all pre-packaged, pre-prepared and processed Halal/Kosher meat and products containing Halal/Kosher meat as such. We believe this will allow consumers to make more educated choices when shopping as well as allowing those who wish to buy these products to locate them with greater ease.