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FOCUS: From £297m to £804m...our growing hospital project

FOCUS: From £297m to £804m...our growing hospital project

Tuesday 17 August 2021

FOCUS: From £297m to £804m...our growing hospital project

Tuesday 17 August 2021


From £297m to £804m across several different funding and construction plans... the hospital project has seen a steady increase in both cost and scale over the past six years.

The intention to build a new hospital was first announced in 2011, a decade ago, while the decision-making process kicked off for the first time in 2015, going through several iterations and pushbacks.

With both its funding and scale again coming under particular scrutiny this week, Express examines the evolution of the hospital project over the past six years...

Decisions, decisions… (2015-16)

Back in early 2015, the Government was at a turning point that somewhat feels familiar to islanders now - they were due to choose the location to build the new hospital.

At that time, the figure attached to the project was £300m, with then-Health Minister Andrew Green due to give the announcement of the chosen site in May of that year.

Peoples-Park-Hospital-1.jpg

Pictured: Though People's Park was only ever shortlisted during the project's evolution, it was at one point considered “the best-performing short-listed option in relation to clinical efficiency.”

Two months before this date, however, then-Treasury Minister Alan Maclean announced there was likely to be a shift in these costs - taxpayers would possibly have to fork out another £50m, with the price tag rising to £350m.

After this hike, the announcement on the location of the site got delayed until September. In the meantime, talk of the £350m figure rising to £400m soon reached the public, on top of a potential £1bn repayment of debt over the coming years.

As the price rose, the date for the announcement of the preferred sites stretched too, with Senator Green now delaying it until January 2016.

Another month’s delay, in February 2016, the sites were finally announced following a £2.5m research project.

The site options in question were:

  • building a new hospital on the existing site, at a cost of around £600m over up to 12 years.
  • The People’s Park site, which would cost £450m over six years.
  • The Waterfront, which would cost £450m over six years.
  • The Overdale site, which would cost £450m over six years.

People’s park for the people… (2016)

Following this announcement, it became a matter of Senator Green versus green space, as the parishioners of St. Helier and their Constable hit back at the idea of giving up the People’s Park.

rsz_1park_1.jpg

Pictured: Protests and pushback from the Parish meant that People's Park was removed from these shortlist in 2016.

Senator Green had previously stated that, though a final decision on the site had not been made, the park was to be a “strong contender”. Ministers echoed this, saying it was “the best-performing short-listed option in relation to clinical efficiency.”

However, opposition soon escalated to protests in the park, with islanders lying down in front of a bulldozer in the park in a bid to keep the park untouched and ensure it remained in Parish ownership.

This was a sentiment shared by St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, who called for a debate to remove the park from the shortlist.

But, in a sudden twist, even before this debate could take place, Senator Green resigned himself to defeat, withdrawing the location from the shortlist himself in the same month that he had announced it.

Back to Gloucester Street and Kensington Place (2016 - 2017)

Despite having months earlier said that it would cost £630 million, Senator Andrew Green returned to the States Assembly in June to tell them that building on the current site was now Ministers’ preferred choice, and that it would cost around £450m.

According to him, the Planning Department indicated they would consider allowing a higher build on the site, to minimise its footprint.

In December 2016, this latest version of the Future Hospital was voted on, with a £466m price tag attached to it, and an aim to start work in 2017 and finish by 2022.

Almost immediately after this in January 2017, questions of how it should be funded sprung back up.

In particular, the legality of Treasury’s funding plan to borrow up to £400m - on top of loans they had taken out in other departments - was questioned.

And then, within the same month, much like the Health Minister had done with People’s Park, Treasury Minister Alan Maclean shocked Assembly members by withdrawing his funding proposition altogether.

Applications and rejections, and applications and rejections… (2017 - 2019)

Despite these funding issues, a planning application for the eight storey high, 44,880m2 building was still put in for June 2017, with its Outline Business Case suggesting a total size of 49,000m2 of new development.

Future_Hospital.jpg

Pictured: Designed by Hassel, the plans for the new hospital to be built on the current site at Gloucester Street were submitted in 2017.

But even with a new funding plan agreed - which would have been a mix of borrowing up to £275 million and money out of the Government’s own rainy day fund - the Future Hospital project was about to be dealt its biggest blow yet.

On 9 January, the planning application was rejected by then-Environment Minister Steve Luce on the grounds that an independent planning inspector had found it "grossly out of scale of the immediate surroundings."

However, it was noted that the proposed site of the General Hospital was appropriate, and that they didn’t think the challenges surrounding the demolition of a number of properties along Kensington Place was enough of a reason to object to the application.

And so with £23m spent on simply trying to get the project off the ground, they went back to the drawing board again, with Senator Maclean warning that further delays could push up the cost of the project.

alan_maclean.jpg

Pictured: Former Treasury Minister Senator Alan Maclean warned in 2018 that further delays to the hospital project would push up costs.

But history was to repeat itself - in 2019, newly elected Environment Minister Deputy John Young rejected a revamped planning application for the site again after advice from the same planning inspector.

The three nails hammered into the project’s coffin were: 

  • Design, townscape and visual impacts: The proposal would result in a building that would be too large for this restricted site.
  • Residential amenity: The development would lead to unreasonable harm to the residential amenities and living conditions of neighbouring residential properties.
  • Heritage: The proposed main hospital development would not preserve or enhance the settings of numerous heritage assets. 

…and back to square one (2019 - Present)

With a new Government and the idea of building on the current site kicked off the shortlist, it seemed to be back to square one for the Future Hospital Project in 2019.

Overdale_Picture.png

Pictured: Overdale was announced as the new choice for the hospital site in October last year, with a cost of £804m attached to it.

With £44.6m having been spent on the previous project, a further £7m was needed to kick the process back into action. This included a whole new team leading it, a 'political oversight group' chaired by Senator Lyndon Farnham, a new site selection process - and a new name, with the 'Future Hospital' project becoming known as 'Our Hospital'.

After a number of delays in 2020 due to the pandemic, the final site selection process reached its climax, and time repeated itself, with People’s Park causing controversy once more as a top two contender for the site.

However, in a move that Deputy Kirsten Morel dubbed the “least surprising announcement of 2020”, Overdale was announced in October last year as Ministers’ preferred choice. 

At the time of announcement, it was estimated that the project would stretch to around approximately 70,000m2 across one site.

According to the latest Outline Business Case, the hospital is now due to be around 66,947m2 if Health and Community Services are able to achieve certain "efficiencies", or 79,618m2 if not.

Though the cycle of hospital selection is seemingly broken for now, there’s one pattern that hasn’t stopped: the mounting costs.

Upon announcement, Senator Lyndon Farnham said that the cost of building at Overdale would be around £550m.

However, the report released shortly after showed a figure over £250m more than that - to include additional costs and contingency funding - with the report estimating around £804m would be spent on building the new hospital.

But that won't be the overall spend.

The Government is planning to pay for the project with two £400m bonds. Once they are paid off in 40 years, with interest, the island will have spent £1.4bn.

Those figures came under intense scrutiny this week, with Senator Farnham due to reply to a list of more than 20 questions on the project, including how estimated costs have been calculated.

Despite facing several challenges, Senator Farnham maintains that the project is still on track - if that remains the case, there will no longer be a 'Future Hospital' project by 2026, but simply a new hospital sitting in Jersey.

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Comments

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Posted by Davey West on
Completely unbelievable if the article is factualy correct it says: With £44.6m having been spent on the previous project, a further £7m was needed to kick the process back into action. This included a whole new team leading it, a 'political oversight group' chaired by Senator Lyndon Farnham,
Therefore Jerseys' government has spent £51.6 million for an invisible non existent hospital. While there are some goods states members the executive and assistant ministers should hand in their resignations over a complete waste of taxpyers £51 million pounds. How could they have done worse? Sadly there is an answer by starting out with an inherited budget of £275 million ( to be taken from the rainy day fund ) and growing it to near £1.4 Billion today, that is how.
Nobody with their faculties sensibly arranged will have confidence going forward in the todays council of ministers.
Posted by on
This is just another debacle in a long list of them.

This project should never have been started without the financing put in place to pay for it. It is wrong to put the next 2 generations in debt simply because our politicians are incapable of doing the right thing. These bonds will put too much strain on taxpayers of which there are only 60,000, not 110,000 as Mr. Handa has quoted.

That will put another £600 in tax on each taxpayer at the very least, and will only generate 1,2 billion over 40 years.

That is why these people are unfit to govern us as they simply can't work a calculator.

They are working with misdirection and part truths all the time which has now caught up with them.
Posted by David Moon on
after an extensive and expensive review the Peoples Park was found to be the preferred location for the new hospital. Unsurprisingly this met with opposition from the Constable of St. Helier and some of his pariosheners at the loss of grenn space without its replacement in the town although it met the principal criteria expounded by the Environment Minster and the Constable himself that the new hospital should be located in St. Helier. Well its not too late.The Peoples Park is the obvious choice. It is the heart of St. Helier close to the existing General Hospital with which it could easily be linked. most importantly it would cost a fraction of the prected cost of building at Overdale. The monies to be expended on the construction of a new highway could be applied to the refurbishment of the General Hospital which has been neglected whilst the project team have pursued a chimera. The Constable and his parishoners could be appeased by Overdale being mad over to the parish of St. Helier for a park and open space or even a residential home.Everyone woukd be a winner .The Island would have a hospital in an easily accessible site at a much reduced cost and the parish would have a nice green space.
Posted by Norman De La Haye on
the Peoples Park is not large enough according to Deputy Roland Huelin in a radio interview some months ago
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