Halt new Hospital until after the election

Letter to the Editor from Brian Bullock, St Brelade.

If a site other than Overdale could be found, Les Quennevais School would not have to be refurbished for Health purposes. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31431412)
If a site other than Overdale could be found, Les Quennevais School would not have to be refurbished for Health purposes. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31431412)

I READ the article (JEP 4 August) by Peter Body with mixed emotions. I was glad that he had so clearly expressed all the many flaws and faults with the new hospital project, delighted that he raised the issue of the enormous financial burden it will put on the next two generations at least, but dismayed that his conclusion was that nothing could be done. Surely, when any project is so seriously wrong in so many ways something just has to be done.

It is not good enough to say that to delay the project further will cost the Island even more. Why should it? If the States say ‘stop’, there should be no more payments until the process has been examined from bottom to top, that the public know in detail what they are getting for their money, proper tenders are put out with costs for other sites for comparison. All this, of course, assumes that there have been no contracts signed already that commit the public purse to expenditure for nothing to happen.

I hear the cries ‘just get on with it’, but what will be the outcome? At no time have those responsible made available what precisely is the content of the proposed new hospital.

Unless, and until, there is made available a list of all the provision we will be getting in the new hospital that is not available now – good, positive and exciting news – along with a list of all those services that we have now that will not be available in the new hospital – bad, negative and worrying news – then it is nonsense to proceed. Information about lawns, atriums, parking and power houses is as nothing compared to what the actual hospital will provide.

I do not know who did the arithmetic that showed that the £800m was simply one takeaway snack each week for everybody for 40 years, hoping that it would make the debt appear to shrink. If this amount is intended to be recovered through income tax, please remember that only about 40% of the population actually pay income tax, so straight away the 40 years becomes 100. Or perhaps they did really mean for everybody to pay their share, and the only tax we all pay is GST.

Is the idea to raise this to 20% so that every Islander is involved – even children with their sweets money? Try that if you dare.

There must be something emerging from all the expensive deliberations and consultations that can be salvaged, so that the money spent so far is not entirely wasted. Then, call a halt until after the election, bring in a different committee with open minds, do the site-comparison costings, show the design to any interested builders and ask for tenders.

If the alternative site does not require compulsory purchase of homes, fields and a bowling club, does not need to refurbish the old Les Quennevais School, does not require major road works, and while building the new allows all the old to operate as now without any disturbance, it just has to provide better value for money, and a seamless changeover when the time is right – as long as the actual hospital design provides the services a population of this size requires.

Answers are long overdue.

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