The pain of HSSD’s folly still hurts
Friday 4th January 2013, 3:00PM GMT.
IF ANYBODY was still in doubt about how poor a decision HSSD made a month ago to close hospital wards the department’s folly is now exposed in all its gory detail.
Having chucked a large wrench into a £100m. engine it should surprise no one that in the process severe damage was done and the jammed mechanism is proving hard to budge.
Quite why the board thought it could simply close down surgical wards for a few weeks and then reopen them is a mystery. But what is clear is that in the chaos that then enveloped everyone from the patient through to the surgeon there were inevitable casualties.
One of those was trust.
Why would any self-respecting highly-trained nurse take a job with an organisation which cuts positions overnight? Their skills, as HSSD are learning, are in demand the world over – which is why agency staff are so expensive.
Locally-based staff – for so long undervalued and underdeveloped – are equally deserving of trust and respect.
By attempting to turn a huge organisation on a sixpence the former minister and his board (presumably following the advice of executive staff) failed to show any respect for the patients, nurses, doctors and admin staff who had to juggle schedules and change roles.
And all this pain was for what? The department has never put even a ballpark figure on how much it hoped to save and, surprise surprise, is showing no urgency to come up with one now that the botched experiment is at an end.
Looked at in those terms it was not so much of a shock that the minister and two members were ousted in December’s States meeting, but that any members survived at all.
For even if you sympathise with the difficulties of controlling a huge budget with variable demand and believe Treasury should have relaxed the spending reins, the solution to the £2.5m. overspend was never an arbitrary and immediate closure of wards with little comprehension of the consequences.
Those consequences are now continuing pain and uncertainty for patients waiting for operations and people with mental illnesses forced out of their ward.
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