A key part of Jersey’s new model of healthcare is already six months behind schedule, and urgent action is needed on digital and communications elements of the plan, according to a watchdog.
But the Jersey Care Model “programme team are still only 66% resourced” and do not currently “have the capacity or experience” to put in place remedial actions, according to the ‘Independent Oversight Board’, which recommends recruiting a “professional services organisation to supplement the team in the short-term (4-6 months)”.
The findings were featured in the board’s first report, reviewing the first year of the five-year Jersey Care Model plan.
The UK-based three-member group, which was fully constituted in March, is chaired by Mike Greenwood, who is joined by Helen Keppel-Compton and Gerald Sampson.
In particular, they highlighted delays with the ‘Care Pathways’ project, which will standardise the routes that islanders take when they use health or care services.
The board said: “The JCM programme team have underestimated the impact of working with third parties or other parts of Government which has led to delays in recruitment and procurement, particularly impacting the Care Pathways project which is now six months behind the original schedule.
“The level of engagement with organisations external to the JCM team will increase significantly as the programme progresses, so it is essential that going forward the project plans incorporate this complexity and high level of engagement to set realistic timeframes.
“Digital engagement in the JCM programme is inadequate and needs to be addressed urgently.”
Pictured: The Jersey Care Model aims to provide more services at the primary care level, as well as in islanders' homes and community centres.
It added: “The budget for 2021 was £6.6m and the programme underspent by £1.5m mainly due to procurement and recruitment delays. The ensuing ‘catch up’ creates a risk of front-loading too many activities into 2022 and requires greater focus on support for the programme.”
The programme team are only two-thirds resourced against the original plan, and is particularly short of qualified project managers," the board found.
Highlighting progress, it notes that governance of the programme is “well defined and now operational” and “good progress has been made on the commissioning strategy, intermediate care and the establishment of the Public Health function”.
The board has made a number of recommendations. One is the “urgent creation” of a four-year programme plan so that progress and any changes to the model can be properly assessed.
Another is that the communications strategy is “reset and reframed” to shift its focus to “tangible outcomes that have been and will be delivered”.
Project governance below the top-level JCM programme board also needs to be “more rigorous and consistent so that all projects are managed to a defined set of standards and the supporting information and processes are in place,” the oversight board said.
Responding to the report,Dr Anuschka Muller, Director of Improvement and Innovation, said: "The Independent Oversight Board has noted that the Care Pathways project is behind schedule. This project is one of currently three projects which form the Jersey Care Model programme. We have now moved to preferred bidder status for this particular project and contract negotiations are underway.
"We are addressing the recommendation from the IOB by discussing options with the digital team about how we can bring in digital expertise into the future pathway development and we are also exploring the recommendation further with the IOB."
She continued: "The covid-19 pandemic had an impact across Government departments which, in turn had a direct impact on the procurement process of some projects under the Jersey Care Model programme.
"Furthermore, we learned a lot by working with 40 external partners to draw up the Commissioning Strategy. This valuable piece of work enabled us to hear the views of a cross-section of health and care organisations and charities. However, to ensure that we incorporated as many comments as possible into the Strategy we needed to extend the deadline for feedback in order to give it the detailed attention that it deserved. In the future we will plan for additional buffer time so that we can ensure that all views are included within an appropriate time frame.
"With regards to the concerns about the front-loading of activities, we have agreed to review the programme plan for the four years to ensure that we have sufficient capacity to deliver the projects."
The Government has already published its own review of the first year of the Jersey Care Model.
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.