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No announcement on hospital site for a year

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EACH week that Jersey’s hospital project is delayed will cost the public purse an additional £100,000, the Island’s Deputy Chief Minister has warned, with a preferred site not due to be announced for another 12 months.

General Hospital viewed from a property in West Park Avenue, St Helier Picture: ROB CURRIE. (25775211)

An estimated £7.4 million is to be spent between now and March 2021 – the target date for a fresh planning application to be submitted. Work has been ongoing behind the scenes on the Our Hospital project since May, when the government decided to go back to the drawing board after two failed planning applications to build a hospital in Gloucester Street.

A new document has been released setting out the progress made since May and outlining what is due to happen over the next 20 months up to the point when a planning application is submitted.

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham, who is chairing the political oversight group for the project, has warned of the cost of any delays in the process and said the new timeline for the project would allow for the proper scrutiny of plans.

He said: ‘I hope we can avoid the mistrust that dogged the previous project by working proactively with Scrutiny and States Members throughout the process, and by ensuring that Members remain informed and involved, before any proposition is brought forward for debate.

‘It is important to keep the project on track, as any delays will cost money: the project estimates that each week’s delay during these preparatory stages will mean £100,000 in additional costs.

‘I hope that as much scrutiny as possible can be carried out in parallel with the project, rather than in sequence.

‘This will provide Scrutiny with the opportunity to give views that the project can take on board as it develops.’

Earlier this year, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said a review of the clinical needs of the hospital building would be undertaken before further discussions about potential sites.

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The States had previously agreed that the new hospital should be built on the existing site. However, that decision was rescinded after successive Environment Ministers – Deputies Steve Luce and John Young – raised major concerns about the size and scale of the build on Gloucester Street.

So far £845,000 worth of funding has been secured to fund the project until the end of 2019, and a further request for funding will be made in 2020.

A project team is still currently being formed, with a number of positions yet to be filled.

To limit the amount spent on the project, it is seeking to re-use as much relevant technical work as it can from the previous failed Future Hospital project.

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An assessment will take place for potential sites in mid-2020 and the plan is for a preferred site to be announced in September next year.

However, there is no date set for when a preferred site will go before the States Assembly for approval.

To further improve transparency on the project, a Citizens’ Panel is being developed, with between 12 and 24 Islanders being asked for their views as users of the Island’s health care system.

The panel will not be asked to give views on medical issues and funding structures, but will be asked to give views on a range of factors.

The document also adds that significant progress has been made on the hospital process, despite a lack of information being communicated to Islanders.

It states: ‘While the Our Hospital project has had little on which it has been able to communicate externally during its first weeks, as it focused on establishing appropriate internal governance, securing financial approval for the initial phase and establishing the process for the recruitment and procurement of the project team, it has nonetheless made important progress in all of these areas.’

Our Hospital project timeline

May to August 2019

Establish governance and secure initial funding.

September to December 2019

Develop the project brief and develop an online case for the new hospital. Draw up a shortlist of sites. Establish the Citizens’ Panel.

January 2020

Appoint a delivery partner to prepare design and build phases of the hospital.

March to August 2020

Carry out detailed assessment of potential sites. Begin work on the funding plan, including facilities management and operation model.

September 2020

Announce the preferred site.

October 2020 to March 2021

Complete the funding plan.

Lodge a proposition in the States for approval of the funding plan.

March 2021

Submit the planning application to the Environment Minister. Secure States Assembly approval for the funding plan.

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