The Future Hospital Review Panel has highlighted that States Members face a clear choice on Tuesday 12 February when they vote on proposition P.5/2019, Future Hospital: Rescindment of Gloucester Street as preferred site.
States members can vote for the proposition to look at alternative sites for the future hospital. But they will be voting to delay the future hospital by at least 10 years as a result - based on the evidence as presented to the Panel and found in its report.
Alternatively, if members think that the risks of delaying the future hospital are too great, then they should vote against the proposition.
The Panel assessed the potential for delaying the new hospital and found that if the States decided to look for an alternative site the future hospital could be delayed by two and a half years. In reality this is more likely to be 10 years because Islanders will have to wait until the new hospital opens rather than the phased approach envisioned in the current project. All these dates – including for the current preferred site – are now likely to be pushed back by at least 6 months as a result of the recent decision to refuse planning permission on the current preferred site.
Deputy Kevin Pamplin, Chairman of the Future Hospital Review Panel said:
“We have taken an impartial and evidence-based approach to reviewing recent developments in relation to the future hospital. Deputy Russell Labey’s proposition requires States members to make a clear choice between reopening the question of site selection and continuing with the current site. There are justifiable arguments on both sides. What the evidence shows, however, are the clear consequences of voting to delay the future hospital. Regardless of how we find ourselves at this stage, now and going forward we must do our best to provide a hospital in the best interests of the patients, staff and indeed all islanders.
The Review Panel’s report highlighted the risks associated with delaying the future hospital. These include clinical risks to patients and financial risks to the project as a whole. The report argues that these are likely to get worse over time and should not be ignored or lightly discounted by members.
The report also made a number of other findings and recommendations including:
- If the States agree to look for an alternative site, it is imperative that the new site selection process is, and is seen to be, evidence-based and complies with best practice procedures. This process should include the existing site alongside any new sites.
- This process, and the whole project, should be overseen by a Political Oversight Group with clear membership, terms of reference and reporting lines – as recommended by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
- The arrangements for major infrastructure are not adequately catered for in the current planning system. The planning system should be reviewed with a view to changing who has the ultimate responsibility for approving or rejecting a major infrastructure project so that it lies with the States Assembly rather than with the Minister for the Environment.
- While there are a number of realistic alternative site options that could physically accommodate the new hospital, each of the alternatives would come with its own set of significant adverse environmental effects and consequent tensions with the Island Plan. A mechanism will need to be found to get the future hospital past the Island Plan. This will need to be done carefully as it could have serious negative implications for other areas of planning.
- The poor governance arrangements associated with the Chief Minister’s Policy Development Board tasked with looking at the hospital site served to undermine the Board’s final report and significantly weakened its findings and recommendations.