The Chief Minister has denied that appointing the Medical Director's former mentor - who later authored a damning £85,000 report alleging a 'Jersey Way' within Health - to lead the new board overseeing the service has created a “conflict of interest”.
Senior clinical lecturer Hugo Mascie-Taylor – who has been recruited to lead the new ‘independent’ Health and Care Board on a 12-month contract, spending three days a week on the island – was asked to undertake a review of “clinical governance” in the island’s health service by Director General Caroline Landon last year.
He had previously been External Assessor during the appointment of Medical Director Patrick Armstrong, and was asked by Ms Landon to mentor him in the role, which involved weekly meetings with Mr Armstrong.
Published in August and based on interviews with more than 50 staff, Professor Mascie-Taylor's resulting report claimed that bullying, a "bias against standardisation" and "vested interests" are dominant in the island's health service and posed a threat to patient safety.
It made 61 recommendations – among them, a call to improve the board responsible for holding the organisation to account and insisting upon "safe, high-quality practice".
On Friday, Health Minister Deputy Karen Wilson announced that the board had been disbanded and that Professor Mascie-Taylor had been appointed to lead its replacement, beating off more than 50 candidates.
In response to questions from the JEP and Bailiwick Express, the Health Department said yesterday that it did "not perceive the appointment of Professor Mascie-Taylor for a period of 12 months as a conflict of interest as he now moves from author to implementor."
"Professor Mascie-Taylor made an individual application as part of the international search for a suitable candidate and was appointed through an independent process managed by the Jersey Appointments Commission," it added.
In the States Assembly this morning, newly appointed member of the Health and Social Services Scrutiny Panel Deputy Andy Howell told the Chief Minister she was aware of concerns among health staff about the appointment, given Professor Mascie-Taylor's "previous professional relationship with members of the executive."
Deputy Kristina Moore responded that she had "confidence in the process that led us to this decision", noting that there had been more than 50 applicants.
She added that Professor Mascie-Taylor's "previous knowledge and expertise" meant the Government was in a "really good place to tackle the important issues" within Health, particularly clinical governance and culture.
After Deputy Howell responded that it was "very unfortunate" that the other finalist – whose identity has not been disclosed – was not chosen, as they "would not have had the same conflicts of interest", the Chief Minster said: "Yes, there was a mentoring role but that was a professional mentoring role, not a personal arrangement... that I do not think creates any conflict of interest and I hope I can reassure the Deputy of that."
The Health Department confirmed to Express and the JEP that no Jersey candidates "formally applied" to the position of Chair.
The recruitment process was carried out by health-specialised executive search firm Gatenby Sanderson – whose fees were described as "commercially confidential" – and overseen by the Jersey Appointments Commission (JAC).
Of the 52 candidates that were sourced, five progressed to interview.
The shortlisted group met with HCS staff, followed by a selection panel made up of JAC Chair Chris Stephenson, Government CEO Suzanne Wylie, Treasurer and Assistant CEO Richard Bell, Assistant CEO Tom Walker, and Jersey GP and Primary Care Body member Dr Gordon Callander.The panel then recommended two candidates to meet with Deputy Wilson and Deputy Chief Minister Kirsten Morel. Deputy Wilson made the final decision.
On Friday, Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor said that he was "delighted and privileged" to have been appointed.
"During the process of the review which I recently undertook I had the opportunity to speak at length with over 70 people in the organisation," he added.
"I know that the service has many committed staff who wish to be part of a strong, mutually respectful, and effective team delivering the best possible care to all patients. I look forward to working with them to put in place the key structures, processes, and culture and behaviours necessary to drive improvement, openness and transparency.
"This will enable patients and carers in Jersey to be assured that the quality and safety of the care they receive compares favourably with other health systems elsewhere in the world."
For more on this story, read the Jersey Evening Post tomorrow...
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