Coronavirus response 'has not delayed new hospital'

THE government will have to wait until the full financial implications of the coronavirus response are known before a funding plan for the new hospital can be drawn up, the Assistant Treasury Minister has said.

Deputy Lindsay Ash
Deputy Lindsay Ash

Deputy Lindsay Ash said that the overall timetable for the Our Hospital Project had not yet been delayed, although plans to release a shortlist of prospective sites had been pushed back.

And with the government committing to a package worth hundreds of millions of pounds to support businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, discussions about the funding mechanism for the hospital project are on hold.

A 2017 States debate on funding agreed that the Island would borrow £275 million and cover the rest of the cost of the project using the Strategic Reserve. However, after the States overturned the decision to build on the current site, the funding plan also fell away.

It was thought that the government would, at least partially, use its significant reserves to fund the project. However, following the coronavirus crisis, the Strategic Reserve will not be in as strong a position as once thought.

Deputy Ash said: ‘The priority is going to be how we fund the hospital now.

‘At the moment we don’t know what the state of things will be after the current situation has gone away, so we are going to have to wait. Wherever we are financially after this though, one thing we are going to have to find is the money for the hospital.

‘We are going to be in a much better position financially after this than other countries because we have money in the bank, whereas they are going to have debts.

‘At the moment, we are still working towards having a hospital built by 2026. At the moment there isn’t a delay. The brakes may have been put on a little, but we are where we are supposed to be.’

He added that the existing plan remained getting a site approved by the States Assembly before moving to a planning application before any financial plan is lodged for debate.

Deputy Ash added: ‘We will have to borrow for the hospital, we know that, but we don’t know and I can’t comment yet on what that will be. That will all come when we know how much the hospital is going to cost.

‘Nothing is off the table in terms of financing the new hospital, but one way or another the hospital will be built and the money will have to be found for it.

‘The public will be 100 per cent behind that.’

Deputy Ash believes one positive coming out of the Covid crisis is the fact that the government may be able to get a hospital built sooner.

He added: ‘The field hospital got quick planning permission and moved quickly. Why can’t we move quicker on the hospital instead of everything being drawn out?’

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More From The Jersey Evening Post

UK & International News