THE Health Minister has revealed more details of work to maintain the Island’s ageing General Hospital while new facilities are developed – at a cost of £5 million per year.
With the existing Gloucester Street site set to be used until the end of 2028 as part of a new phased approach to the project, funding has been allocated for ongoing maintenance, sparking criticism from a former minister about a ‘make do and mend’ approach.
Responding to a query from the JEP, Health Minister Karen Wilson said ministers were committed to delivering good-quality healthcare facilities as soon as possible, and to maintaining and improving the current Hospital environment.
Deputy Wilson said that the annual £5m cost would address the most urgent building and infrastructure maintenance needs, as well as infection-control issues, until new health facilities were delivered.
Deputy Wilson said: ‘The estates team manages, plans and delivers a portfolio of work which averages about 20 small projects a year, aimed at mitigating operational and clinical risk in our ageing healthcare facilities.’
The work has covered multiple areas, Deputy Wilson added, including:
– The recently completed refurbishment of Plémont Ward.
– A phased programme of work in the Maternity Unit, which is now halfway to completion and should be finished by February 2024, including upgraded delivery suites, more en-suite facilities and the expansion of the Special Care Baby Unit.
– A new air handling plant for the Day Surgery theatres and Pathology department laboratories, completed at the end of 2022.
– The refurbishment of both Beauport Ward and Bartlett Ward, currently at the planning stage.
– Upgrading works to fire, water, medical gas and mechanical and electrical systems.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham, who held political responsibility for the hospital project before last year’s general election, continued to express reservations about the current government’s direction.
He said: ‘While I would always welcome improvements to the infrastructure of our Hospital, I remain very disappointed with the government’s make-do-and-mend approach to the current healthcare facilities crisis.
‘The solution [to the crisis] has been approved by the States Assembly in the form of a single-site hospital at Overdale, but the change of direction by the current government has only increased the cost of new healthcare facilities as well as the running costs of the current Hospital.’
Deputy Farnham said that he was also concerned that the current maintenance work seemed almost entirely focused on facilities for patients.
‘Of course I want a good environment for patients, but I’m worried that we aren’t making corresponding improvements to staff facilities in order to create good working conditions for our essential healthcare employees,’ he said.