THE government has wasted time and money by disregarding States Assembly decisions and could be halfway to having a new hospital built had the previous project not been scrapped, a former minister has said.
Deputy Lyndon Farnham, who held political responsibility for the project during the previous government’s term of office, believes that the decision to halt the Overdale plans has caused unnecessary delays, which are ‘putting Islanders’ health at risk’.
In a report released this week, Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment found that more than £38 million had already been spent, and written off, on previous hospital projects and warned that this figure could rise further.
Deputy Farnham said: ‘The blame for money spent on previous projects lies at the door of this current government. If the new government had not halted the Overdale project, we would be halfway through the hospital project, which was due to be completed in 2026.’
He added that ministers had a ‘lot of explaining to do’ and believes that the proposal for a single-site facility at Overdale was stopped ‘for the wrong reasons’.
In November 2020, the States Assembly approved Overdale as the preferred site for the new hospital and, last May, Environment Minister John Young granted conditional approval for the planning application.
‘This government has disregarded previous Assembly decisions without receiving advice or consultation from medical experts, causing additional costs and risking Islanders’ health,’ Deputy Farnham added.
‘They [the government] have stopped the most important project that the States have agreed in modern times based on the political and personal opinions of the Chief Minister and one or two other ministers, which is concerning.’
Meanwhile, Deputy Lyndsay Feltham, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, criticised the amount of money that had been wasted.
She said: ‘Writing off that amount of money is never a good use of funds. It suggests previous projects have been ineffective.
‘The public will become more and more angry that there is nothing to show for their money being spent.
‘It’s really important that what happens next to the hospital will be successful.’
The CAG’s report found that the government’s review of the Our Hospital project was ‘overly ambitious’ on what it said it would deliver, lacked rigour and did not involve enough consultation.
Health and Social Security Panel chair Deputy Rob Ward agreed that the government’s review contained missing detail.
‘There is a desperate need for clarity. Everyone wants to see a successful process and outcome now,’ he said.
He added that the findings from the CAG’s report ‘cannot be ignored’ and must ‘be accounted for.’