Hold a referendum to choose New Hospital site

Letter to the Editor from Graham Bisson, Grouville

St Saviour's Hospital exterior. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (31311231)
St Saviour's Hospital exterior. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (31311231)

THE continuing saga of our new hospital and the greatest threat to it, the untried Jersey Care Model, continue to rumble on wasting astronomical amounts of money and time. Not because of any group of people, but because of the incompetence and arrogance of some of our States Members and some of our civil servants.

‘Friends Of Our New Hospital’ are as keen as anybody else to get this hospital started and finished as soon as possible, but not in the wrong place, which Overdale is, or the wrong hospital, an acute hospital, instead of the General Hospital that we desperately need.

It is blatantly obvious that a large majority of people are against Overdale, not just for one reason, but for several reasons. We all make mistakes and it takes guts to admit it when we do. Even at this late hour, those responsible should admit they got it wrong. This will stand them in good stead in a year’s time at our general election.

So, what is the quick, democratic and inexpensive way to solve this hugely expensive problem? I would like to suggest that a referendum is the answer. The two following options, St Saviour’s Hospital, in the Health zone, and Warwick Farm should be put forward for the people to decide.

It will be the people’s hospital, they will be using it and they will be paying for it. With a project of this size, there is no better way to decide quickly and fairly where our hospital should be built. St Saviour’s has the advantage of being a site that is big enough for everything we need on one site, without having to buy additional land or buildings and has mental health facilities already established.

On an Island of nine by five to say it is too far out is absolutely ridiculous, especially when they are suggesting that a permanent multi-million-pound medical centre at Les Quennevais is okay for people who live in St Martin or Grouville. What’s the difference? Five Oaks roundabout is not the only way to get to St Saviour’s Hospital, and paramedics are not just ambulance drivers. It is also 43% bigger than Warwick Farm. Warwick Farm is on the outskirts of town, and being smaller the building would need to be taller than St Saviour and in addition, future expansion would be a problem, but not at St Saviour.

Going down the referendum route, we would not need to have an expensive public inquiry and the Environment Minister would not have the weight of making a decision on his shoulders.

All in all, a win-win situation, and most importantly a democratic process. Unless the general public are supportive of a vote of no confidence in the Council of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, things will only get worse and our coffers will be emptied very quickly. At a public meeting a couple of weeks ago, 200 people voted for this.

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