Building on current hospital site ‘could cause an exodus’

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Miklos Kassai, a general consultant and colorectal surgeon at the Hospital, has raised concerns about building next to a working hospital, saying that the project would generate dust and noise, affecting the working environment of the current building.

And he claims that despite ‘numerous meetings’ with visitors from a UK hospital where on-site building was undertaken, Jersey’s workforce was ‘not convinced’ that the plan was the ‘fastest, cheapest and safest option’.

He made the comments following the launch of an e-petition – which has so far gathered more than 600 signatures – which calls for Hospital staff to be consulted on whether they believe the new building should be built on the Gloucester Street site. If the petition attracts 1,000 signatures, ministers will respond, and if it receives 5,000 the issue will be considered for debate by the States Assembly.

Mr Kassai said that it seemed that the majority of the Hospital workforce believed it would be safer to build the £466-million facility elsewhere.

‘We have been assured many times that building next to a working hospital is not a problem,’ Mr Kassai said. ‘Noise, vibration and dust can and will be minimised, or, we are told, eliminated.

‘However, it is difficult to accept. The fear is that it will be a problem and at that point it will be useless to say, “I told you so”. We will be forced to put up with this as there will be no other way but to run forwards.’

Mr Kassai also said that not only were Hospital staff concerned about working on a building site for eight years, they were also worried about patients.

‘They and their visitors need a nice, calm, relaxing atmosphere in order to get better and that is difficult to imagine on a building site,’ he said. ‘For the same reason it doesn’t even make sense to build the Hospital in the heart of the town. The argument that it needs to be easy to access is a bit flawed on a small island like Jersey. If needed you could even organise a shuttle service from the bus station.

Mr Kassai added that the current Hospital was ‘barely fit for purpose’ and that with a projected population growth the facility would be ‘unsuitable in the next few years’.

He also said that the Hospital was already ‘struggling’ to recruit and retain staff and that if working conditions were disrupted by the building project, staff might leave.

‘Further deteriorating the working environment risks a mass exodus and eventually a serious decline in patients’ care,’ he said.

Mr Kassai said that deciding where to build the future hospital had been ‘over-politicised’ and said that the issue was full of emotion. He added that the only democratic way forward would be for Islanders to decide where the new hospital should be built via a public referendum.

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