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Hospital saga a ‘disgrace’

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PROGRESS on the Future Hospital project has stalled – with ministers no closer to proposing a new site after the Gloucester Street approval was rescinded in February, the JEP can reveal.

A replacement for the General Hospital is no nearer

In an email to all States Members, seen by the JEP, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that the States ‘need to make changes in how we approach the development’ before making any further decision on a new site.

The leader of the Chairmen’s Committee, which comprises the heads of five Scrutiny panels and the PAC, Senator Kristina Moore, has described the delay as excessive and a disgrace.

A special Scrutiny panel is being reconstituted to analyse the progress made on the £466-million project. The Future Hospital Panel completed their report in January. However, the Chairmen’s Commitee are due to undertake a fresh review of the project.

Plans for a new Jersey General Hospital have been besieged by a number of setbacks and in February the States Assembly opted to rescind the decision to build on the existing hospital site.

That meant a return to the drawing board for ministers, with five sites now thought to be under consideration – the Waterfront, Overdale, St Saviour’s Hospital, Warwick Farm and the Gloucester Street site.

However, Senator Le Fondré has now told States Members that more time would be needed to consider the hospital specification before deciding on a location.

He said: ‘I wanted to send you a short note thanking you for participating in the recent discussion sessions about how we move forward to deliver a new hospital.

‘You raised a number of issues, and it is clear to me that there is a strong appetite to consider (before choosing the location of the site) the specifications of our hospital, and how it fits into the wider delivery of health care in our Island.

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‘It was also clear to me that we need to make changes in how we approach the development of our new hospital – delivering a project that is more health-led, with improved governance, increased engagement, and greater transparency.’

He added that he would send a ‘more detailed note’ to Members after Easter and publish a report on progress and the proposed new approach next month.

Senator Moore yesterday confirmed that she had written to the Chief Minister to outline plans for continued scrutiny of the project and to request he attends a public hearing on the matter.

In her letter to Senator Le Fondré, she said: ‘The recent correspondence that you sent to all States Members advising of your decision to essentially return to the drawing board in respect of the build of the new hospital has raised a number of concerns for the panel.

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‘Firstly, the public has already invested £43 million in robust professional advice to deliver a much-needed hospital and any further delay to the build could push the existing hospital into a stage that will increase its running costs significantly.

‘Secondly, we question whether the recent meetings with States Members have followed a thorough process and whether the discussions have been informed by professional expertise or support.’

Speaking to the JEP, Senator Moore added: ‘The former chairman of the hospital review panel [Deputy Kevin Pamplin] issued the challenge to the Chairmen’s Committee suggesting that further review needed the weight of our panel behind it to continue to scrutinise and provide challenge to the decision-making in this area.

‘The chair-people of the various panels will take part. We intend to question the Chief Minister about his decision-making and the amount of money spent from here on in.

‘It is a total disgrace. We need to deliver a hospital and the excessive delays will further increase not only the time before a new hospital is fully operational, but also the cost of running the existing hospital.’

More than £40 million has already been spent on the project – with no site approved.

A States spokesperson said: ‘The Chief Minister has committed to submitting a report to States Members before the end of the month, which will propose a new approach for delivering a hospital for Jersey.

‘Senator Le Fondré has held a number of discussion sessions with States Members to hear their views, and Members have made it clear that changes are needed in how to approach this development. Before choosing the location of the site, Members said they want to consider the specifications of our hospital, and how it will fit into the wider delivery of health care in the Island.

‘The Chief Minister intends to deliver a project that is health-led, with improved governance, increased engagement, and greater transparency. The approach will factor in time for the Chief Minister to return to Members at critical points for comment and oversight, enabling the government to move forward and finally deliver this vital project.’

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