Hiring processes within Health are being questioned after it emerged that a recent senior appointment was not advertised.
Health 'fixer' Chris Bown was appointed as Interim Chief Officer on a 12-month fixed-term contract on 1 April following the sudden resignation of Caroline Landon.
Mr Bown was initially brought to the island three months earlier to lead a 'Change Team' recruited to drive improvements in Health at a cost of £200,000 per quarter.
Constable Andy Jehan, Vice-Chair of the States Employment Board, said that the lack of advertising for the role was necessary "on an exceptional basis" due to the sudden departure of the department's most senior civil servant.
He said: “Chris had already recently been through a process of selection for similar skills and experience, and it was important that a speedy temporary appointment be made to ensure continued operational leadership to the department.
“A brief was agreed with the Health Minister, and the States Employment Board recommended Chris’ appointment be approved along with an immediate move to open recruitment for a permanent role.”
Pictured: Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel.
However, Deputy Rob Ward, Chair of the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel, warned that "exceptional can become habitual if we are not careful" and added that the reasons for the exceptional appointment needed to be made clear.
The Reform Jersey Deputy said that the SEB needs to be "very clear" about the process used to recruit senior Health officials, explaining that "there will also be concerns about transparency if there is not an open process of recruitment".
"This is particularly important for a government who promised openness and transparency before being elected; now they have to live up to that," added Deputy Ward.
The Health Scrutiny Chair stressed that the criticism is "nothing personal" against any individual, and said that "it gives people authority in their position if it is known that they went through a thorough recruitment process".
Pictured: Chris Bown is a health professional with more than 35 years’ experience, including 20 years as CEO of healthcare providers in the UK along with advisory assignments in the UK and the Caribbean.
Mr Bown's new salary has not been shared - though his predecessor's total annual remuneration package was around £200,000.
It has also been confirmed that the States Employment Board has also agreed for the recruitment process to begin for an interim Chief Nurse following the resignation of Chief Nurse Rose Naylor who left her role on 31 March 2023 — the same day as Ms Landon.
Express has asked who will be acting Chief Nurse in the interim.
It's not the only Health-related recruitment process to have raised eyebrows recently.
There have been previous controversies surrounding the hiring of other health officials. The appointment of senior clinical lecturer Hugo Mascie-Taylor — who was recruited to lead the new 'independent' Health and Care Board on a 12-month contract — prompted concerns due to his prior relationship with other senior health staff which forced the Chief Minister to deny any conflict of interest.
Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor has recently been appointed as the new Chair to establish the new Health and Care board. He will oversee the Health and Community Services Department as it works to advance the quality and safety of its services. pic.twitter.com/euiDls6vAv— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) November 22, 2022
Prior to becoming Chair of the Health and Care board, Professor Mascie-Taylor was asked to undertake a review of “clinical governance” in the island’s health service by former Director General Caroline Landon. That review raised serious concerns about the running of the Health Department and Professor Mascie-Taylor made 61 recommendations for improvements.
He had previously been External Assessor during the appointment of Medical Director Patrick Armstrong, and was asked by Ms Landon to mentor him in the role, which involved weekly meetings with Mr Armstrong.
Pictured: A report by Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor found serious issues with governance at the Hospital and the Health Department.
It was also revealed that the Health Minister had "encouraged" Professor Mascie-Taylor to apply to lead the Health and Care Board, before hiring him.
Appearing before Scrutiny earlier this year, Deputy Wilson admitted that she had “encouraged [Professor Mascie-Taylor] to consider whether or not he would be interested” in the top role.
“That was as far as my interest went and officers then took that forward in terms of sourcing a number of people," she said.
Deputy Karen Wilson – who had the final say on appointing Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor — maintained that the recruitment process was able to "weed out" any potential conflict of interest.
One consultant told the JEP after the appointment was announced that some clinicians felt the appointment to have been “underhand” and were particularly concerned about Professor Mascie-Taylor’s existing relationship with the former Health Director General and the Medical Director.
Pictured: Health Minister Karen Wilson.
Defending the process, Deputy Wilson later added: “I think there were enough stages… before it got to my decision to weed out any conflict in that regard and I think what I was satisfied with was having been presented with two candidates to compare that the candidate who was successful was the one that met the requirements of the job.”
Assistant Health Minister Malcolm Ferey, who was also at the Scrutiny meeting, added: “The Appointments Commission was involved in the process to ensure independence and transparency.”
The Chief Minister was forced to state her “confidence in the process” in the States Assembly when Health Scrutineer Andy Howell said she was aware of concerns among health staff about the appointment, given Professor Mascie-Taylor's "previous professional relationship with members of the executive."
Deputy Howell also said that it was "very unfortunate" that the other finalist – whose identity has not been disclosed – was not chosen, as they "would not have had the same conflicts of interest".
In September 2022, Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet recruited an Expert Adviser to support his review into whether changes could be made to the Our Hospital project to make it cheaper and more "appropriate".
Principal Expert Adviser, Alan Moore — who had previously undertaken advisory work with the Infrastructure Department — was responsible for delivering the final report on the Our Hospital project.
Pictured: Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet.
However, there were questions around the appointment of Mr Moore, as the role of Principal Expert Adviser was not advertised and did not follow any traditional recruitment or procurement process.
Instead, he was selected from a group including small pool of individuals who contacted the Government directly, with reference to taking part in a hospital review.
The Government said that this process was used due to the tight timescales they were operating in, as well as the "scarcity of individuals that had the necessary skills, experience, and availability to undertake the review."
They explained that a potential list of advisers was identified, consisting of a small number of individuals who had contacted the government about being part of the review, individuals identified through open-source research undertaken to identify people with the broad skills and experience required, and Mr Moore — who had been engaged prior to the review to undertake a discrete piece of work for the Our Hospital project with reference to its internal project governance arrangements.
A longlist of options was shared with the Ministerial Oversight Group, who asked officers to follow up on some options.
The government said that Ministers then met with the shortlisted individuals, and considered that Mr Moore was the most suitable for the role given his approach, experience, and the proposed terms of the engagement.
Following advice from People and Corporate Services, the appointment of Mr Moore and his remuneration was approved by the Senior Responsible Officer and Accountable Officer for the Our Hospital Review.
The government added that Mr Moore's services were considered very good value for money and the team who engaged with him found his contribution to be extremely effective and valuable.
Concerns were also raised much earlier on in the tenure of previous Health Chief Officer/Director General, Caroline Landon.
Months after being appointed, it emerged that she had handed a former colleague - who she had worked with for almost a decade - Senior Nurse Charlotte Hall, a 12-week consultancy contract worth £45,000, in addition to accommodation and flights. Ms Hall was the sole candidate considered for the £750-a-day job, which was not advertised locally or in the UK.
Weeks later, details of a £42,000 six-month contract handed to another NHS colleague of the Health Director General came to light. Andrew Carter was recommended for the £350-a-day role to "develop a governance structure to... improve patient safety, quality standards and risk management" – just shy of the threshold needed for States Employment Board (SEB) approval – by Ms Landon before she even started her new role.
Less than six months after Ms Hall and Mr Carter's recruitment sparked outrage, it was revealed that two more ex-colleagues of Ms Landon had taken up senior roles.
Martin Warnette, who worked with Director General Caroline Landon at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, was appointed Intermediate Care Modernisation Manager in October 2019.
Meanwhile, Hilary Lucas, who worked with Ms Landon at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, has become Jersey's Director of Health Modernisation.
Government officials denied any conflicts of interest regarding any of the appointments.
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.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.