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Health Minister denies bid to "get rid of" advisory board

Health Minister denies bid to

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Health Minister denies bid to "get rid of" advisory board

Tuesday 16 April 2024


Jersey's Health Minister has rejected implications that he is trying to "get rid of" an advisory board after revealing he is not currently seeking to replace its former Chair.

Deputy Tom Binet told States Members this morning that he had decided "not to proceed" with the recruitment process to replace Tom Hayhoe, who was appointed as the first substantive Chair of the Health Advisory Board at the end of February.

After just over a month in the position, it emerged that Mr Hayhoe was leaving “by mutual consent” and with immediate effect at the start of April.

Tom Hayhoe.jpg

Pictured: Tom Hayhoe was appointed as the first substantive Chair of the HCS Advisory Board in February, and left at the start of April.

At the time, Deputy Binet cited "acknowledged differences in working styles" and said he and Mr Hayhoe had parted "amicably".

During today's States sitting, Deputy Jonathan Renouf asked the Health Minister to provide a timetable for the appointment of a new Chair.

Contract too short to be "attractive" to candidates

Deputy Binet said: "Given that the Assembly is due to review the board arrangements in the spring of 2025 and the fact that the recruitment process for the new Chair would take approximately three to four months, I have decided not to proceed with recruitment at this point in time.

"If a person were to be appointed they would only have a contract period of around nine months, and this would probably be too short a period to be attractive to candidates."

He confirmed that former Acting Chair, Carolyn Downs, had agreed to chair the board meetings going forward.

Deputy Binet added that she and the remaining Non-Executive Directors have offered to share the workload of the chairperson between them.

Jonathan_Renouf.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Renouf asked Deputy Binet for reassurance that he was "not simply trying to get rid of the board".

Deputy Renouf asked the Health Minsiter for reassurance that he was "not simply trying to get rid of the board", noting that he was among those who had voted against its establishment last year.

No objections "at all" to the establishment of Health board

Deputy Binet replied: "I am very happy indeed to confirm that, and I would just remind the Deputy of the reasons that I was sceptical about the board.

"I made it plain at the time that I did not object to a board at all. I just thought that the single point of failure in having that board reporting to the Health Minister only was not acceptable – and that's a matter I intend to address as soon as I can."

When the creation of an Advisory Board was formed last year, Deputy Binet had been vocal in favour of more political involvement in the board, telling the States Assembly: "We need to be mindful of the fact that Health is the largest operating budget by some margin and occupies probably the most important place in the minds of the public, so why not comprehensive political oversight here too, especially while the service remains in such poor shape and there are clear underlying intentions to make significant changes to the fundamental structure of our health service?"

Deputy Montfort Tadier asked if there could be "a perception out there that the Minister might want a board that is compliant", to which Deputy Binet responded: "There could be that perception but that would be entirely incorrect."

After Mr Hayhoe's departure was announced, the former Chief and Health Ministers, Kristina Moore and Karen Wilson, and former consultant David Ng told Express of how important they felt the board to be, and shared a desire for it to continue.

Dr Ng said he was concerned about politicians repeatedly getting involved in – and going against experts – in a system as complex as Health, which he said was frustrating efforts to build a world-class system. 

He added that he was confident Deputy Binet "recognises the importance of the board", adding: "He recognises the managers need to be held to account. Having the hospital board allows doctors to have the courage to speak out."

READ MORE...

FOCUS: "Serious questions" raised by Health Chair's sudden exit

Health chair leaves after a month over "differences" with Minister

Health Board plans to hear patient stories

Who is the Health Board's new Chair?

New Health Chair to be paid third of £230k-a-year predecessor 

'Interim' Health boss to stay until 2025

FOCUS: Why does Jersey need a new Health Board?

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