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Failing state of Jersey's hospital laid bare

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THE failing state of Jersey's ageing hospital and the lack of privacy and dignity afforded to patients has been laid bare in a damning open letter to politicians by senior clinicians.

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With the States this week due to debate how the planned £466 million new facility will be paid for, the letter urges Members to back Treasury Minister Alan Maclean’s funding proposals.

The plans would see the new hospital funded by a £275 million bond, with the remaining balance drawn from the Strategic Reserve – Jersey’s ‘rainy day fund’.

The funding debate has already been delayed several times this year, and was initially meant to take place in January.

The open letter, which is signed by chief nurse Rose Naylor and medical directors Martyn Siodlak and Sarah Whiteman, states:

  • Patients are being told 'devastating prognosis' in facilities that do not offer 'the most basic privacy and dignity', with just a 'thin curtain between them and the patient in the bed next door'.
  • In a recent outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting, staff were 'unable to isolate patients with symptoms due to a lack of single rooms'. The only option was to isolate whole bays of beds – taking 'many beds out of action and exposing more patients and staff to infection'. Elective surgery was also cancelled as staff 'could not use beds effectively'.
  • The Hospital is frequently unable to provide single rooms for people receiving end of life care. 'We do not think that you would want this for your family, and as professionals we do not want it for our patients. We live with the reality of this everyday,' the clinicians say.
  • The Hospital 'frequently' has unexpected failures in infrastructure – such as blocked and leaking drains in clinical areas, patient lift failures, electricity failures and air duct failures.
  • Many of the most critical services – such as the Emergency Department, the Intensive Care unit and the Chemotherapy Suite are in the 1960s building, which is 'in the worst condition'.
  • The poor state of the hospital may be dissuading potential staff from taking a job in Jersey.

‘As the senior clinical representatives within the Health Department, we are asking you to vote in favour of the proposition, because any further delay could have serious consequences for the people of Jersey – our patients,’ the letter says.

‘We are fortunate in Jersey to have excellent, experienced and committed staff working in our hospital – people who give of their very best every day to provide quality care to Islanders. However, they are increasingly hampered by the current physical environment.

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‘We know that you understand the need for a new hospital and we understand that you have debated the site and approved a new build on the existing site. Despite this being more complex from an operational point of view, it is manageable.

‘We are desperately keen to make this work and to get started, because completing our new hospital is becoming time critical.’

It adds: ‘For the sake of our patients, your constituents and all of our families, we – as dedicated, professional clinicians – strongly urge you to vote for the proposition.’

After a series of debates and consultations, the decision to build Jersey’s new hospital on the current site was made last year.

It is planned for the Gwyneth Huelin Wing and Peter Crill House to be pulled down and a new building constructed in their place, extending into Kensington Place with walkways connecting to Patriotic Street car park.

Buildings in Kensington Place that would be demolished include the Revere and Stafford hotels, four business units and a 14-flat apartment block.

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