Warning: More may need treatment in UK
MORE Islanders will have to be sent to England for treatment, the Health Minister has warned if the States Assembly reject proposals for the new hospital.
Senator Andrew Green made the comments when asked what would happen if Members rejected the funding plans for the future hospital scheme, which is due to be debated next month.
Discussions about where the future hospital should be built and how it should be paid for have rumbled on for years and it emerged last month that more than £17 million has been spent on the project before a spade has even touched the ground.
On 12 December States Members are due to debate Treasury Minister Alan Maclean’s plans to borrow up to £275 million to fund the new hospital with the remaining amount to meet the total £466 million cost of the project to come from the Strategic Reserve.
When asked by the Future Hospital Review Panel what would happen if the Assembly rejected Senator Maclean’s proposition, Senator Green replied: ‘We will run out of beds and patients will have to be sent to England. It will cost a considerable amount more [than building a new hospital] and that is the short term.
‘There will be no new hospital and there will be consequences.’
Under the proposals the new hospital would have 212 adult beds – compared to the 148 in the current building.
Earlier this year the States Statistics Unit’s Disease Projections report forecast that by 2036 there would be an extra 20,000 people in Jersey needing treatment for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. The increase would be largely fuelled by the ageing population, rather than inward migration.
Senator Green said the report was ‘no surprise’, adding that the Health Department had planned for a growing, ageing population by injecting funds into providing more care in the community.
Helen O’Shea, the hospital’s managing director, added that she was confident the new hospital was future-proofed against both population growth and an increase in acute chronic disease.
The panel also asked what would happen if deals to buy properties and businesses on Kensington Place – where part of the new hospital is planned to be based – could not be reached.
Ray Foster, director of estates for the Infrastructure Department, said the risk was minimised because the States could use powers of compulsory purchase – which he stressed was a last resort.
Deputy John Le Fondré, panel member, said that compulsory purchases could only be actioned if they were ‘rubber stamped’ by the Assembly.
Mr Foster replied: ‘I know the States will realise the gravity and necessity of the undertaking and take a view as it always does on propositions.’