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WATCH: Senior medics speak out on new hospital plan

WATCH: Senior medics speak out on new hospital plan

Wednesday 16 November 2022

WATCH: Senior medics speak out on new hospital plan

Wednesday 16 November 2022

The potential scale of the challenge for the Government to get the medical profession behind its plan for multiple hospitals was laid bare at last night’s live-streamed Q&A event.

Clinicians formed part of a 50-strong audience for the panel session with the Chief Minister, Treasury Minister, Health Minister and Infrastructure Minister.

Using the hospital project as a "political football", a lack of consultation and future-proofing were among the concerns raised by doctors at the event, which followed a review carried out by Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet along with an Expert Adviser appointed from the UK.

"Will Ministers stop using the hospital and staff as a political football?"

Consultant gastroenterologist David Ng was among those to speak, warning of the unintended consequences of reopening some facilities at Overdale, which he said had taken physiotherapists out of the General Hospital, adversely affected patient discharge times, leading to bed-blocking and cancelled procedures.

Video: The Our Hospital Review Q&A event.

Dr Ng added: "Will Ministers stop using the hospital and staff as a political football and continue with the democratically-agreed plan [to build at Overdale] without delay?'
Treasury Minister Ian Gorst said that economic circumstances made the existing Overdale scheme unaffordable and that continuing with it would have involved gambling with taxpayers' money.

NHS concerns

Consultant urologist Ben Hughes asked Health Minister Karen Wilson how many Jersey-based doctors had been consulted for the review.

He queried the value of involving UK-based experts, notably the notably author of the review Alan Moore, describing the UK's National Health Service as being "in disarray".

Deputy Wilson said she did not have exact details about the consultation, but pledged to provide these.

Flexibility query

Another consultant, colorectal specialist Miklos Kassai, questioned whether the government's preferred option from the review - a multi-site hospital including Overdale and the current Gloucester Street site, among others - could be adapted in the future.

Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet said he believed that previous schemes had attempted to fit too much into each site, and that the multi-site scheme would provide space allowing facilities to develop.

Compromising educational excellence?

Dr Salman Zaman, a consultant who is also the director of medical education for the Health Department, said he was proud of Jersey's reputation as a training centre for clinical staff and said the island should aspire to "competing on the world stage".

Dr Zaman asked the Health Minister if she would pledge that education and training would not be a casualty of the government's review into the Hospital and the intention to cut costs.

Deputy Wilson said: "It is one of the key areas that it's important to address and through this two-site proposal we have really got to examine how we protect the capability to provide really good training facilities for people - that would certainly be my commitment to continue to develop that going forward. The issue is again how we manage to get an affordable solution to that - that would be something I would want to work with yourselves [clinicians] on."

Delivering a new building... and a better system

Hospital clinician Chris Edmond, who also runs an occupational health business, asked the Health Minister when the results of work to get the model for healthcare provision in Jersey sorted would be seen.

Deputy Wilson said this would happen once there was a decision on the Hospital from the States Assembly, adding: "We will never achieve what we want to achieve just by building a building, what we are trying to achieve is a healthcare system that delivers really good clinical outcomes, so the earlier we start the design of that - which is the critical part - with the clinicians and patients around that, and I know I keep repeating that, but it is absolutely critical to the way in which we need to move forward.

"There have been some previous criticisms about the kind of engagement that's gone on before but now we've got a chance to put this right and be really clear about what we can do together to deliver a really good model of service going forward."

Dementia focus

A nurse working at the hospital referred to guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence about the potential harm caused to elderly patients, including those with dementia, of prolonged stays in hospital and being moved from ward to ward.

This was a particular concern, she said, as quarter of the patients at the General Hospital fell into this category.

Deputy Wilson said that it was important to build facilities that would meet the needs of people with dementia, and that a dementia strategy was being developed. She said that she would have "a particular focus" on making sure patient safety was addressed throughout the process of redesigning services.

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