Hospital evidence ignored in favour of current site?
EVIDENCE may have been deliberately ignored in an effort to make the Gloucester Street site appear the best place for Jersey’s new hospital, according to a politician leading a review of the previously shortlisted locations.
In a development that raises serious questions over the plans for the new hospital, Assistant Chief Minister Chris Taylor claims evidence that proves alternative sites may actually be better has been ‘intentionally ignored’.
His review board has been tasked with examining all evidence that led to the current site being chosen above others, including the Waterfront, Overdale and the People’s Park.
He said: ‘Evidence showing that other sites are better appears to have been intentionally ignored. There does seem to be a pattern emerging and we are in a position where we have concerns.’
When asked what the evidence is and what exactly the concerns are, he declined to elaborate.
But the JEP understands the review board believes facts and figures could have been deliberately held back or left unused over recent years to ensure the publicly available information presented the preferred site in a disproportionately positive way.
Mr Taylor added: ‘We are now calling for more evidence. We are planning to send a survey to people who work in the hospital, including consultants, doctors, nurses and midwives.
‘At long last members of the medical profession are coming out and speaking against the current site. We really want the opinions of everyone in the hospital.’
The board is now planning to call for past and present workers and consultants involved in the hospital project to hand over relevant documentation, including emails, text messages and even Whatsapp conversations.
Last week, a consultant and surgeon at the hospital, Miklos Kassai, raised concerns about building a new hospital next to the existing one.
And today another medic, gastroenterologist Dr David Ng, said the hospital should be built anywhere but the current site and that he was ‘shocked but not surprised’ at claims that evidence may have been ignored to promote the current site as the best option (see page 5).
Mr Taylor said that despite the significant development in his investigation, it should not delay the board’s aim of completing its work by the end of October. ‘This concern strengthens my resolve. Progress is slow at the moment because of the massive volume of work, but we intend to meet that deadline,’ he said.
The review board’s remit is to ‘consider the extent to which the evidence supported the conclusion that alternative sites were less suitable or deliverable, including the People’s Park, St Saviour’s Hospital, Warwick Farm, the Waterfront, Overdale and a dual site solution’. The board comprises Mr Taylor as chairman, alongside Deputies Richard Renouf, Trevor Pointon and Rowland Huelin and Constable Richard Buchanan.
Responding to Mr Taylor’s claims and the question of whether the board has the legal powers to demand evidence, a States spokeswoman said: ‘This policy development board was set up to consider the evidence that led to the previous States Assembly’s decision to build the new hospital on the existing site. The board was asked to either provide assurance over the decision, or to raise concerns about the evidence that led to the decision. Its terms of reference do not include any legal powers, but do include a recommendation that the board should provide the opportunity for external parties to provide evidence.’