Ahead of next week’s crucial vote on funding for the proposed development, the 43 medics have called on politicians to put aside their differences and support the hospital plans.
In an open letter to States Members, the group describes Overdale as ‘the only immediately deliverable option’ for the project, which was first explored in 2012.
States Members are being asked by the Council of Ministers to back a proposition for borrowing of up to £756 million to fund the cost of the new scheme, as part of a total budget of £804m. Under the plans, the borrowed money for the hospital would be placed in the Strategic Reserve.
However, a Scrutiny panel has lodged an amendment which would cap the total cost of the scheme at £550m, of which a maximum of £400m would be borrowed.
The letter highlights the inadequate nature of the existing General Hospital at Gloucester Street, saying that it is gradually becoming unfit for purpose. ‘We cannot continue to care for our patients, the people of Jersey, in the current building for much longer,’ the letter says.
It adds: ‘We implore States Members to come together, to see the bigger picture, and for the sake of the healthcare needs of this generation and of future generations please make the right decision to support the current proposal to build at Overdale.
‘Let’s do what the silent majority of Islanders want, which is to just get on with it and build the new hospital that we desperately need.’
Ministers are seeking approval for the funding of the scheme next week, while the project team intends to submit a planning application by 15 November in the hope that planning permission for the scheme will be secured ahead of the general election taking place in June next year.
Dear States Members
As consultants and senior clinicians in Jersey it is with a sense of urgency that we appeal to you to put aside your differences and come together to support the plan to build the new hospital at Overdale.
Please be in no doubt that the existing hospital is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose. Year after year we have spent millions of pounds to patch up an ageing building so we can maintain services, but the infrastructure means we cannot improve. We will never have enough operating theatres to satisfy the demand for surgery; our emergency medical and surgical assessment units will never be co-located with our emergency department; we will never have the mental health or maternity facilities we need; our radiology and pathology departments will not be able to expand to deliver crucial diagnostic investigations; we will still have to rely on portable buildings to provide out-patient clinics; and our in-patient wards will never have en-suite rooms. We do not have the luxury of further delays. We cannot continue to care for our patients, the people of Jersey, in the current building for much longer. What we need is a new hospital.
As healthcare evolves, we want to be able to provide more and better clinical services in Jersey. We want to reduce the need for our patients to have to travel off-Island for treatment. A new facility allows us to develop these services and also allows us to attract the high-quality healthcare professionals that we need.
We appreciate that the site for the new hospital will always be contentious, but the Overdale site is the only immediately deliverable option. We acknowledge that this is a significant financial investment for Jersey but it is an essential investment. We don’t presume to tell you how to fund the hospital or whether this represents good value for the taxpayer. What we do know is that we need a new hospital. Despite what you may have read or heard, we the clinicians have been involved in the design of the new hospital and we wholeheartedly support it.
We implore you the States Members to come together, to see the bigger picture, and for the sake of the healthcare needs of this generation and of future generations please make the right decision to support the current proposal to build at Overdale. Let’s do what the silent majority of Islanders want which is to just get on with it and build the new hospital that we desperately need.
Elizabet dos Santos
Pierre Le Page