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Hospital citizens’ assembly panellists to be anonymous?

News | Published:

THE identities of 18 Islanders who will sit on a citizens’ assembly to help inform the design of the new hospital could be kept secret to avoid them being ‘influenced’ or coming under ‘political pressure’.

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Following the government’s announcement last year that an assembly would be set up, the selection process is still ongoing after being re-opened in the hope of attracting more under-25s. The revised deadline closed yesterday.

A response to a freedom of information request said: ‘The selection process for the Our Hospital Citizens’ Panel is still ongoing.

‘Due to the high level of public interest in this project, the government is aware of the potential for influence or political pressure upon members of the Our Hospital Citizens’ Panel.

‘Therefore, once the panel has been selected, their first responsibility will be to agree their terms of reference and decide whether their identities will be published.’

In the terms of reference, the government has insisted all panel information will be marked restricted and will remain confidential and should not be discussed in public.

In the States Assembly this week, Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: ‘It isn’t about being secretive; it is for people on the panel not to have political interference in the early stages of this process. We know what social media is like when people don’t agree with you.

‘In politics that comes with the territory but members of the public might not be enthused by that.’

During the process the panel – which will meet four or five times over a six-to-eight-week period – will consider factors including the need for a new hospital, how a new hospital will meet the needs of patients, factors about the facility’s socio-economic impacts, impact on sustainability and the community and the trade-off between benefits versus harm.

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So far, 154 applications have been submitted and the government wants the 18-strong panel to include two or three people from the 15-to-24 age group, six from both the 25-to-44 and 45-to-65 demographic and three over-65s.

Assistant Health Minister Hugh Raymond said: ‘Since the [initial] process closed before Christmas with 154 applications, the chairman of the selection panel, Francis Le Gresley, has undertaken a careful – and anonymised – sifting process to ensure all of those who go through to the final random selection phase are impartial and have no conflicts of interest.

‘However, after that sifting process it became clear to him that young Islanders were under-represented.’

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