ALMOST 300 Islanders are waiting for mental health support, due to staff changes and new referrals putting increased pressure on services.

There has been a significant increase in risk around staffing in Community Mental Health Services due to high levels of vacancies and staff sickness. Now, 289 individuals are waiting for allocation within the service.

Papers, seen by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust Board last Thursday, say the trust is taking ‘urgent action’ to address these issues.

This includes recruiting to fill vacancies, and increasing staffing levels in the short term to focus on caseload reduction and allocation. A review of medical roles in the team, and further development of practitioner led clinics will also help relieve pressure on the service.

There has also been a significant overspend due to a continued use of agency consultant psychiatrists.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has been contacted for comment.

Sam Schroeder, a former volunteer in mental health services, said: “It would be wonderful if we could train up local people in apprenticeship type roles, so they could learn on the job while shadowing competent staff who already perform a similar role.

“The NHS seems so tied up in red tape that a simple common sense solution like that may not have much of a chance of actually being implemented.”

Earlier this year, Sam released a film about the state of mental health services on the Island.

‘Crisis of Awakening’ had five public screenings, and one private screening for the clinical commissioning group (CCG). Sam was invited then by Mental Health Champion, Cllr Clare Mosdell, and MP Bob Seely to submit his ideas for reforms on the Island.

He said there were nine issues with mental health on the Isle of Wight, including unifying services, listening to service users, the range of therapies available and a benefits safety net, among others.

Sam said: “I have not heard back since submitting those reforms. It would be nice to have a level of urgency.”

He said he remains positive, but realistic about the future of services.