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Health scrutineer officially ousted after panel spat

Health scrutineer officially ousted after panel spat

Wednesday 01 March 2023

Health scrutineer officially ousted after panel spat

Wednesday 01 March 2023

The leading Health scrutineer has lost a vote of no confidence against him following an acrimonious spat with members of his panel.

In what was described as an "unedifying" debate by Deputy Carolyn Labey, Deputy Geoff Southern was ousted as Chair of the Health and Social Security Panel, which is responsible for examining policy set by the Health Minister, by 17 votes to 15.

However, the divisive nature of the debate was shown in the fact that 14 Members opted to abstain - with a number of politicians being heavily critical of the motion.

The dispute was ignited following a complaint from Health Minister Karen Wilson over the behaviour of panel members Deputies Barbara Ward and Andy Howell.

Deputy Southern, as a result, asked the two Deputies to resign from the panel as he felt they had breached the code of conduct for States Members.

However, panel vice-chair Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache leapt to the defence of Deputies Ward and Howell and brought a no-confidence motion against Deputy Southern.
In the Assembly on Wednesday morning, Deputy Bailhache said that Deputy Southern had "grossly exaggerated the conduct of the two Deputies to justify his position".

The Chamber was deeply divided over the issue, with a number of Members criticising the fact that they were being asked to pass judgment on a disagreement within the panel.

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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.

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Posted by John Henwood on
To misquote Oscar Wilde, to lose one job may be regarded as misfortune: to lose two looks like carelessness. Sacked as Assistant Minister at Social Security in 2009, Deputy Geoff Southern has now been kicked out of his job as chairman of the Health & Social Security Scrutiny Panel. I wonder, how many jobs must he lose before it's regarded as a habit?
Posted by Aston Francis on
Deputy Southern was not alone in his wrongdoing. It is now time to let go the Health Minister. Her letter to Southern demonstrated her not being fit for the office. The Emperor’s (Minister’s) New Clothes show continues.
Posted by Jean Lelliott on
This shocking fiasco should never have come to the assembly. The Health Minister was wrong in her allegations as has been proven by HANSARD and Deputy Southern did nothing to try and sort this out amicably, contrary to anything he may claim. The Health Minister, on her own admission, has quoted information received anecdotally - this is then questionable and should be ignored unless the Minister has firm proof of anything. I speak frequently with members of staff in the hospital and it seems to me that the fact that the Minister herself had asked Professor Mascie-Taylor to apply for the role was well known in those quarters and possibly came from the gentleman himself.

After Deputy Southern calling for the resignation of Deputies Howell and Ward, Deputy Bailhache was left with no alternative but to bring the Vote of no Confidence. And had Deputy Southern been willing to listen to the wisdom of several of the speakers during the debate and withdrawn his requests for panelists to resign and then worked things through in private instead of carrying on this circus, the assembly might still have retained a semblance of dignity. Instead, Deputy Southern returned to the assembly after what should have been a night of reflection and assumed that he had every right to form a new panel and that everything would carry on as before. Furthermore, his political party issued a press release that he was being picked on and they all supported him. This is really quite bizarre.

Deputies Ward & Howell are absolutely the most qualified members of the assembly to be scrutinising Health and their place on the HCS scrutiny panel is, no doubt, an almighty bug bear to the Health Minister and her officers. These two ladies know exactly what has been going on in Health for years and it is absolutely right and proper that they should be able to ask the searching questions unhindered. For the Minister to send her officers out of the meeting is something which she should be brought to book for as it is subjecting the scrutiny process to ridicule. The Minister quotes that she fully supports the scrutiny process but her actions prove otherwise. Scrutiny is always going to uncomfortable and, at times, confrontational - if it is not then it is not effectual.

For Deputy Southern to come back to the chamber the next day and say that the Minister had said that her officers felt 'browbeaten' must be some kind of a joke. These people are earning 6 figure salaries to do jobs they have failed in miserably and should absolutely be accountable for their actions.

If the Government had the courage to agree to an advisory full independent inspection by the Care Quality Commission our hospital would be placed in Special Measures and these incompetent senior managers would be gone. There would then be no need to carry on these farcical question times which are never answered in full and we could be getting on with actually mending our broken health service. Nobody is listening to the staff, Nobody is listening to the patients. All we are doing is paying out massive amounts of money to keep people in jobs who should never have been there in the first place.
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