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Deferral of utility bills and GPs to be employed by Health Department

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ISLANDERS will be given flexibility on the payment of their utility bills while more than 100 GPs are to be employed directly by the Health Department, the Chief Minister has said.

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As part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, Senator John Le Fondré, in a pre-recorded speech, has confirmed that from next week the Health Department will employ GPs, initially for four months.

This, he said, will mean Islanders can have access to medical professionals as quickly as possible.

'This agreement gives Health and Community Services more capacity and more flexibility to adapt to changing needs, and puts Jersey’s healthcare system in a stronger position to tackle COVID-19,' he said.

'It is a significant step forward in ensuring that we have a resilient health service which is prepared and able to save lives.'

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has also said Islanders could defer payments on utility bills and that a further package of business support measures will be announced in the next 48 hours.

He added: 'We are refining the package of support over the next 48 hours.

'But we have to be clear that we have a finite amount of money in our Strategic Reserve, and we have already committed £400 million of that in financial support for our Island.

'We will not make snap judgements now that will leave our economy in a worse state in the future.

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'And we must not leave ourselves without the resources we will need to support the economic recovery when we come through this current situation.'

Senator Le Fondré also revealed that a community support group has been set up to identify the most vulnerable Islanders and provide them with support.

'We have set up a Government Community Taskforce to coordinate the voluntary and community sector and parish response to coronavirus, to identify, predict and meet the needs of Islanders – and especially vulnerable Islanders – as they develop,' he said.

'It is led by Deputy Judy Martin, with Deputy Carolyn Labey, Constable Simon Crowcroft and a further representative from the Constable's Committee.'

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The Chief Minister reiterated that the priority of the government is to save as many lives as possible.

He said: 'We are facing an unprecedented situation.

'Like all Governments around the world we are working harder and faster than ever to understand the situation, from a health, social and economic perspective, and to put the right measures in place, based as always on expert advice.'

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