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POD: Health MD denies ‘NHS-ification’ of service

POD: Health MD denies ‘NHS-ification’ of service

Monday 11 October 2021

POD: Health MD denies ‘NHS-ification’ of service

Monday 11 October 2021

The health service is not overrun by ‘managers’ behind desks, and there are no attempts being made to “NHS-ify” it, according to the service’s Managing Director.

Rob Sainsbury made the comments on the latest Bailiwick Podcast, following recent concerns raised by politicians and pressure groups around the service’s ongoing restructuring.

In August, the Friends of Our New Hospital called out in a report what they saw as too many managers being recruited to the Health Department, when the focus should be on dealing with the “worryingly high” vacancy levels among clinical and nursing staff. 

But Mr Sainsbury said that there was a misunderstanding of what a “manager” was in a hospital context, saying that many of those in positions of responsibility were not sat behind a desk, but already clinicians with experience on the ground.

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He further argued that the service’s restructuring had led to a less hierarchical structure – contrary to what some had claimed, saying: “I’ve been here for four years and it did strike me that there is a real draw on hierarchy in Jersey – it was a real strong chain of hierarchical command. You had to ask somebody permission – you couldn’t seek to do something yourself. A lot of our routine things that would be routine to me felt to be quite complicated and involved lots of different people giving a nod – some of those people in quite senior quite powerful positions.

“That is not the leadership style that we want as an Executive Team in Health - we want involved leadership, we want teams to be self-leading and empowered to do so.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Sainsbury sought to rebut suggestions that Health leaders were seeking to turn the island’s service into an island ‘NHS’ by stealth. 

Describing Jersey’s relationship with the NHS as “strange” and “complex”, he emphasised that the island was “inevitably” intertwined due to its reliance on the NHS supply chain for equipment, drugs and even covid vaccinations. 

He also highlighted that “nearly all” local Health service staff come from the UK, and that Jersey’s medical training schools and regulatory functions were also UK based.

“We wouldn’t want to not be part of that… But that doesn’t mean our organisation has to be like the NHS,” he said.

“The Benefit we have is that we can look at what happening in the UK, NHS and beyond and look at what’s good and what’s not and wouldn’t want to do,” Mr Sainsbury continued, noting that there was an “awful lot” he would never want the island to replicate “because there are parts of the NHS system that really aren’t working.” 

“I feel that in Jersey we’ve got the unique opportunity and ability to really harness the good but to do it in our own way – so we’re not trying to NHS-ify the system, we don’t have the same constitutional standards, we don’t have the same framework, and our services aren’t provided in the same way. There’s a different island context.

“But we want to keep our links with the UK and we don’t want to use that education and workforce flow – I think that’s really important for us.” 

He went on to explain that he would not wish to change the island’s Primary Care system. 

“…Our GPs are a real strength to Jersey… They’ve really demonstrated during the pandemic that having a familiar GP and somebody who knows you and understands you gives good continuity of care is incredibly important. 

“There is so much evidence if you were seeing a locum GP and its three weeks between your appointment and it’s a different GP every time, you’re not going to see as good an outcome.” 

He added that Jersey was in a “better place” than the UK as a result, with local GPs doing a “good job” at stopping islanders from “flooding the doors of A&E” – Jersey’s A&E growth was less than 3% compared to the UK’s 10% - and supporting those with long-term conditions.

Elsewhere in the podcast, Mr Sainsbury addressed the findings of a damning report leaked to Express, which revealed how bullying and leadership issues were impacting the care of patients undergoing surgery, the challenges of the current hospital, and ongoing recruitment problems.


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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by gordon le claire on
That's what you would expect the service’s managing director to say
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Tell that to the nurses (my daughter is one). It is a hell hole to work in.
Posted by Stathia Ekdikisi on
Another lovely smile from a senior executive responsible for our Health. Coincidentally, on the day when September waiting lists got published with 9894 people waiting for an outpatient appointment, the highest number ever, 10% higher than at the end of April. The number of people waiting for surgery grew to 3079 up from 2643 in April. If only 10% of what he said were true... the facts are different, the bullying is even more intense, good doctors and nurses don't want to come to Jersey, lots of short term locums get hired through agencies to patch the crisis. This leadership is not capable of turning the service around. It will get worse if people at the top of the pyramid stay the same. The staff don't trust their leaders. It is time to act.
Posted by Lesley Ricketts on
The refusal to admit to any shortcomings are directly linked to our Chief Minister who also refuses to own up to any mistakes and that’s why nothing changes for the better.
Posted by Aston Francis on
Looking at the 'secret' performance report indicators and the waiting lists (over 13 thousand people waiting for outpatient or inpatient admission) we are worse than NHS. We have higher % of people absent due to stress than in the UK. And we are moving in the wrong direction. People responsible for bullying, for nurturing the toxic culture are doing well.
Posted by Aston Francis on
To get a better understanding of the situation in Health please watch 'Everything's Fine - The News' on You Tube. The latest POD is an improved version of the famous video by Mitchel and Webb.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Of course our G.P.'s are outstandingly good ~ perhaps because we PAY for each visit.
It does STOP early visits to G.P.'s because of the expense ~ which is a problem.
Posted by Jon Jon on
This guy talks rubbish,that hospital is over run by managers ,I hear medical records is in a complete mess and that’s just the records. As for doctors ,paying fifty quid is quite a lot of money for five minutes,as doctors fees rise further A&E will see far more customers.
Posted by Paul Troalic on
Interesting comments from the services Managing Director. I wonder if what he has said has done anything to diffuse the difficult situation we hear from other people?
I am not sure I have read anywhere that staff are comfortable with the conditions in the hospital so perhaps this person has rose tinted spectacles. He's probably earning north of £150k do that's understandable.
I prefer to listen to people that are on the ground.
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