Letters to the Editor: A dual site will do the job well. Time to get on with it

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From Ted Vibert.

YOUR correspondent Ceri Twiston Davies writes (JEP letters 8 November) that he is ‘appalled to learn that the States of Jersey have now voted for a split-site hospital and wish to persuade clinical staff that this is the best solution’.

That it simply not the case. It may be that the Council of Ministers have made that decision, but it has to be debated by the States and approved by a majority of Members.

Your correspondent writes that ‘split-site hospitals are expensive and unworkable’ and that they have been tried in the UK and they are not successful. That is quite possibly true, although no evidence is presented to convince anyone that this is the case.

He also argues that alterations and renovations to existing old buildings in Gloucester Street, as envisaged by Deputy Tom Binet, are quite often more expensive than starting from scratch – and that is also true. But not always. Many of the buildings in Gloucester Street, where refurbishing and conversions will be necessary, are relatively modern, such as the Gwyneth Huelin Wing, the emergency and casualty department and some of the other sections which are in reasonable condition. The maternity ward has recently had a makeover.

At Overdale at least four of the buildings currently in use for medical purposes are in excellent condition, and capable of modernisation and conversion into a different medical use, change which would be economically feasible should that be necessary.

Your correspondent suggests that the solution to the problem is to find a single greenfield/brownfield site ‘or similar’ outside of town.

Well now that’s precisely why the answer is the dual site, as there is no such area in Jersey available on which to build a health campus of the size and magnitude being proposed. If there was such a site we would not be having this problem, and we would have it all over and done with and we would be arguing about what to do with the empty Gloucester Street site.

The UK Planning Inspector who turned down the first plan for Gloucester Street, because it was too large and overpowering, was asked last year to assess the four sites shortlisted after months of exhaustive searches for such a site. He concluded that only Gloucester Street fulfilled the requirement – the other three presented far too many problems in terms of planning and compliance with the new Island Plan, environmental concerns, traffic problems and accessibility.

He also stated that, in short, there is no site in Jersey capable of being turned into a massive health campus as envisaged at Overdale by the previous States without leaving a trail of damage to the environment to achieve it.

That is what those who are opposing Deputy Binet’s plans can’t accept – especially those clinicians and your correspondent who want perfection. Of course, having all of the Island’s medical requirements in one place would be ideal. But if that’s not possible, and it isn’t, a dual site – where the Hospital is now and some non-acute parts at Overdale – will do the job well, although not perfectly.

It’s time to get on with it.

Join the discussion Email editorial@jerseyeveningpost.com or write to The Editor, Jersey Evening Post, PO Box 582, Jersey JE4 8XQ. Letters must include full name and postal address, which will be published. They should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited.

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