THE Health Minister ‘encouraged’ the author of a critical report about her department to apply for a new role overseeing the service – and then appointed him, it has emerged.
The decision to update Health’s existing oversight board flowed from a report by UK professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor, which alleged that bullying, a ‘bias against standardisation’ and ‘vested interests’ were dominant in the Island’s health service and, the report said, posed a threat to patient safety.
Health Minister Karen Wilson appointed Prof Mascie-Taylor on a 12-month contract which will see him paid £225,000 to work for three days a week, following a recruitment process overseen by the Jersey Appointments Commission which whittled 52 candidates down to five interviewees and then a final two.
Appearing before a Scrutiny hearing this week, Deputy Wilson admitted that she had ‘encouraged [Prof Mascie-Taylor] to consider whether or not he would be interested’ in the role.
‘That was as far as my interest went and officers then took that forward in terms of sourcing a number of people.’
Defending the process, she later added: ‘I think there were enough stages … before it got to my decision, to weed out any conflict in that regard, and I think what I was satisfied with was, having been presented with two candidates to compare, that the candidate who was successful was the one that met the requirements of the job.’
Assistant Health Minister Malcolm Ferey, who was also at the Scrutiny hearing, said: ‘The Appointments Commission was involved in the process to ensure independence and transparency.’
One consultant told the JEP that some clinicians felt the appointment had been ‘underhand’ and that they were particularly concerned about Prof Mascie-Taylor’s existing relationship with Health’s director-general, Caroline Landon, and medical director Patrick Armstrong, whom he had previously mentored on a weekly basis.