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New head health scrutineer chosen after panel spat

New head health scrutineer chosen after panel spat

Tuesday 21 March 2023

New head health scrutineer chosen after panel spat

Tuesday 21 March 2023

A Reform Jersey Deputy has been appointed as leading scrutineer of the Health Department after its previous head was axed from the role by a vote of no confidence.

Deputy Rob Ward was voted in as Chair of the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel after beating fellow nominee Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache by 32 votes to 14 during this morning's States Assembly sitting.

The panel was left in limbo earlier this year after the previous chair, Deputy Geoff Southern - also a Reform Jersey member - was ousted from the position by a vote of no confidence brought against him by the panel's vice-chair, Deputy Bailhache.

The spat followed a complaint from Health Minister Karen Wilson over the behaviour of panel members Deputies Barbara Ward and Andy Howell, with Deputy Southern asking the two Deputies to resign from the panel as he felt they had breached the code of conduct for States Members.


Pictured: Deputy Bailhache (left) brought a successful VONC against the panel's previous chair, Deputy Southern, earlier this year.

This became the subject of extensive debate in the States, with several members criticising the fact that they were being asked to pass judgment on a disagreement within the panel and opting to abstain from voting on the no-confidence motion.

Following Deputy Southern's departure from the role, the Assembly today voted to appoint Deputy Ward as chair.

During his nomination speech, Deputy Ward said scrutiny was "vital for good governance" and cited his previous experience, including his time on the Children, Education and Home Affairs scrutiny panel.

"Scrutiny is an essential check on the work of government and the professional connection between this Assembly and the wider decision making processes of government," he added.

Citing the panel's dispute, St Brelade Deputy Moz Scott asked Deputy Ward if he though training in ethics and conflict of interest management should be regarded as essential - or even be made compulsory - for scrutiny members.

Deputy Ward said he thought looking back on the situation was "not a good idea".

"However, I would say a few things. I personally feel we have a commissioner for standards who should be used if there are situations that arise.

"The simplest way to address this is to deal with that sort of training as a development of our own professionalism and we should all be professional in this Assembly," he continued.

Deputy Ward will now seek to put forward a selection of members to serve on the panel.

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