Don’t care for what the board says
Tuesday 29th January 2013, 2:30PM GMT.
LAST week in this column we highlighted the depressing differences in the way Flybe and the States are addressing broadly similar problems – a lack of revenue – and the need to save £30+ million: one by debating whether a restructuring should go ahead at all and the other setting out a two-year plan to axe 20% of its managers and turn around its fortunes.
While there are no prizes for guessing who was taking which course of action, Health and Social Services was coincidentally displaying its own
ineptitude when it comes to facing new realities.
Over a series of days this newspaper and Deputy Mike Hadley dragged out of the department how it really hasn’t got a grip on managing its assets or even a plan for tackling its own financial black hole that is the King Edward VII Hospital.
At today’s prices, HSSD has spent £9.6m. keeping open a facility that should close. Will it shut this year? No, so that takes the cost of dithering up to £12m. – approximately £280 per taxpayer.
What is so concerning about the minister’s response is his assertion that raising these concerns was unnecessary. Since asking challenging questions about his department’s husbandry of public finances isn’t on his agenda, islanders will be pleased that at least someone is making ripples on their behalf.
Have HSSD officials spent the last four years liaising with the private sector to see how adequate care for KEVII-type patients can adequately be transferred to the non-States sector? What is their timetable for closure?
Given the minister’s insistence that patients, families and staff have to be consulted, it rather looks like the years have been wasted since it was first identified that the KEVII has no future.
What is also irritating is the department’s mantra that care comes first. Staff at the KEVII do an excellent, caring job, as others do elsewhere. There is no doubting that. But if HSSD is institutionally wedded to excellent care, as it claims, why have mental health services deteriorated to their current lamentable state?
If care is everything, why are Les Bourgs and Guernsey Cheshire Homes providing what HSSD is disinclined to offer?
In assessing these matters, islanders should look at the facts and ignore the political rhetoric.
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