Since consultation on the proposals opened in May, responses have been received from the Jersey Architecture Commission, planners, Scrutiny, healthcare workers and members of the public, with a running theme being the dominant appearance of the main building on the skyline.
Professor Ashok Handa, the project’s medical director, said that changes to the configuration of wards could lower the height of the main building by a floor on two sides and reduce its mass without compromising space needed for clinical functions.
Now revised plans are to be advanced which will reduce the building’s visual impact by reorganising the arrangement of wards.
He said: ‘Going back and looking again has allowed us to create even better flows. The thing I’ve been hearing constantly is that this looks even better than when we met last time. As it turns out, it has allowed us to take a significant proportion of the costs out because it’s smaller and better configured. One of our promises is that we are determined to be within, or below, the budget and this is going to allow us to make a further dent into that.’
The professor was commenting as Chief Minister John Le Fondré published the business case for the Island’s largest capital project, which has a budget of £804.5 million. It argues that continuing to refurbish the existing health estate over the next 40 to 50 years would cost more than building the new hospital at Overdale, without delivering the benefits of a modern facility.
Senator Lyndon Farnham, chairman of the Our Hospital Political Oversight Group, said that the case demonstrated that the project could be delivered within budget and be operational by the project deadline of 2026.
‘At the same time, it will provide a health facility that is greatly improved on the previous iterations of the project. The main hospital building will consist of four hospitals in one – general, acute, ambulatory, and maternity and children’s, together with a knowledge and training centre and mental health facility. It will be supported by a modern and highly efficient energy centre, and entirely set within landscaped gardens and parklands, in an elevated and peaceful location,’ Senator Farnham said.
The business case will be followed by a proposition due to be lodged later in the summer and expected to be debated in October. Since Senator Farnham published the first images of what the new hospital might look like, the Our Hospital team has been responding to concerns raised about the size of the main building and its impact on St Helier.
The professor reiterated that the new hospital would continue to provide the services that Islanders currently enjoyed and he rejected the claim made by the Friends of Our Hospital group that it was an acute, rather than a general, hospital.
‘It is an artificial distinction. I have reassured them in a number of meetings and at the Scrutiny committee on more than one occasion that what we are planning is not just an acute hospital – it’s an acute hospital, it’s a general hospital and it’s a specialist hospital. We will have all three services. The idea that we are building an acute hospital is disingenuous and a red herring because all of the acute, all of the general and all of the specialist services will carry on,’ he said.
lProfessor Handa is the subject of today’s Saturday Interview on pages 10 and 11.