Jersey’s Health Department says it won’t publish a key report on its performance over concerns about “sensational” media reporting.
The department’s top officials said they fear media coverage of their 'full performance report' - which its head describes as a "naked" account of the department - could inhibit patients from seeking help.
While noting that the government’s aim was “transparency”, and that there was an “ongoing conversation” about releasing the report publicly, Health Director General Caroline Landon said during a Public Accounts Committee hearing this week that she thought information in the document might be “presented in a way that is sensationalised.”
Equally, when quizzed on why the document was not made publicly available, as is common practice in other jurisdictions, Group Medical Director, Rob Sainsbury claimed that media reports about the department's performance could potentially put people off using Jersey’s health services.
Pictured: Group Medical Director Caroline Landon said that it was sometimes difficult when the department was being treated like a "football."
“I think that would be really challenging in Jersey because there is a real sensitivity because it’s small,” he said.
He accused the media of having reported mental health unit admissions and suicides "in a very sensational way", adding: "...The way that they’re interpreted can really impact on people in terms of how you want to promote your services.
“If you hear about a negative impact continuously for your service, and then that stops somebody seeking help, and seeking support, that can be really counterproductive.”
He added that he felt other jurisdictions wouldn’t report on subjects the way that the island's media outlets report on them either.
“It feels that that information isn’t always appropriately and proportionately then interpreted, it becomes a frontline headline that you just would not see in other jurisdictions,” he remarked.
He singled out “blood contamination headlines” as one of the subject areas reported on over the last three years that he felt "would be handled in a different way" elsewhere.
Pictured: Mr Sainsbury singled out "blood contamination" as an area he felt had been particularly sensationalised in headlines.
Director of Improvement Dr Anuschka Muller also noted that if there are “very small numbers” of particular cases, it could risk making patients identifiable.
However, Ms Landon tried to assure the panel that, despite not releasing the document as is common practice across the UK, that they still wanted to be transparent.
She said: “This is not us trying to hide our performance, but this is us trying to support our staff to deliver better performance for our patients, and sometimes in Jersey that’s difficult because it’s sensationalised.
“I understand it from other service providers, but we provide health, we’re different to IHE… I’m not trying to say that we’re special, but we’re not delivering roads, we’re delivering care.”
She added that it was “sometimes difficult” for the department when they were treated as what she described as “a bit of a football.”
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