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Search for another comms expert – for hospital project

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ANOTHER senior communications expert is being head-hunted by the States to spearhead a new media campaign as ministers seek to bring the long-running hospital saga to a successful conclusion.

States communications director Stephen Hardwick's Twitter profile

‘Citizen panels’ will also be used ‘to get this right from the off’, it has been revealed.

After years of work choosing a site and design, two separate hospital proposals failed to get planning permission, costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.

A new hospital project, named ‘Our Hospital’, is now under way which, it is hoped, will finally provide a new facility for Islanders.

In order to do that, the States communications team are looking for a ‘communications and engagement lead’ to join them.

In a blog post, States communications director Stephen Hardwick said that he was on the lookout for a person to fill the role, but stressed that funding had not yet been approved, meaning the post had not been ‘set up yet’.

He added that he could therefore not, at this stage, reveal what the salary for the role would be. However, senior communications officers, one of whom is attached to each government department, are employed on a grade 12 civil service salary and can expect to earn up to £70,000.

The communications department has 32 full-time staff involved in various areas of government. However, the communications and engagement lead would not be a permanent position.

Mr Hardwick said: ‘So we’re going to do things differently this time, and get this right from the off.

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‘We’ll draw on what worked well last time, but will widen the communications and engagement campaign so that we can genuinely involve people in the scoping and site selection of the new hospital, including using citizen panels – a first for Jersey.’

He added: ‘We’ll be recruiting a number of roles shortly, but I wanted to start talking about the role that I need to recruit – the communications and engagement lead – so that anyone who might be attracted by the challenge of leading this aspect of the biggest infrastructure project in Jersey’s history can start thinking about it.

‘If possible, that person would ideally be an Islander, familiar with the history of the project, who understands the particular Island context and the way politics works in Jersey.

‘It will be a big and responsible job – full-time and full-on – with the chance to make a real and lasting impact. It will report to the hospital project director and to the director of communications (me), and will have access to the resources of the whole government communications team – media and stakeholder relations, internal communications, marketing, digital and design.

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‘I can’t think of a bigger communications campaign or a bigger engagement challenge in Jersey right now. So if you have the skills, the experience, the confidence and the ambition, drop me a line and I’ll let you know when we start recruiting.’

In 2017, it was revealed that Mr Hardwick was one of four consultants brought in to support States chief executive Charlie Parker in his first months in post.

Mr Hardwick’s pay, reported to be between £1,200 and £1,300 a day, along with the day rates paid to the three other interim consultants, has attracted criticism, especially in light of the ongoing public sector pay dispute.

His appointment was followed by the communications department being handed £300,000 in May last year to improve the way the States interacts with Islanders.

To date, the communication and engagement on the hospital project has been criticised for being poor.

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