Green: Money Wasted Planning New Hospital
23rd November 2017
Senator Andrew Green
Jersey’s Health Minister admits “a small amount” of taxpayers’ money has been wasted during the development of plans for the island’s £466 million new hospital.
The report’s author, the Comptroller and Auditor General, Karen McConnell, says it took too long for officials to choose where to build the new health facility.
It has now been decided it will be constructed behind the existing hospital on Gloucester Street.
Senator Green confirms the project has so far cost the island £23 million.
“This is not in addition to the budget of £466 million, this is included within that,” he says.
“A significant sum of that was about work in Overdale, William Knott, The Rehabilitation Centre, Eagle House, and this is about providing some surety that as we wait for the new hospital we can continue to have beds for patients going forward.
“We are running out of beds.
“This money would have to have been spent whether we had a scheme or not, to try and provide some surety, some robustness around service continuity while the new hospital is built.”
Asked whether public money could have been saved if the issues raised in the States’ Auditor’s report had been dealt with sooner, Senator Green says: “A small amount possibly, but not much, because a lot of the evaluations had to take place.”
An artist’s impression of Jersey’s new £466 million hospital
Among the review’s criticisms is a claim that between March 2012 and February 2016 there was sometimes ambiguity about what exactly had been agreed by officials, due to issues with the record-keeping process.
Despite insisting this finding is “not embarrassing at all”, Senator Green accepts a lack of clear governance and oversight in the early stages of the project did contribute to delays.
But he says it is difficult to say if the project could have been handled better, blaming the political process for causing delays.
“Quite rightly, the Comptroller and Auditor General looks at the process and her evaluation of such a process, but of course if you overlay the political aspect of that then it becomes a different animal completely.
“I realise that you can have a site that ticks all the boxes in terms of delivery, but if it politically can’t be delivered, it falls.”
Karen McConnell, Jersey’s Comptroller and Auditor General
In a written statement, issued in response to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report, Senator Green adds: “Since February 2016 we have made considerable progress in programme management, decision-making and streamlined political oversight, and we have expanded the project team to include a mixture of States of Jersey professionals and expert external advisors with experience of this type of major project.
“I am confident that we have the structure and processes in place to deliver our new hospital, on the site that has now been approved by the Assembly, and paid for through a funding formula that will be debated by the Assembly next month.
“Jersey’s clinical professionals made very clear to Assembly Members in a briefing last week that there must be no further delays to this project, and all our focus is now on ensuring that we get approval so we can start work in early 2018 to build a modern hospital that will serve our Island for generations to come.”