Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Health of the Hospital

A RADICAL overhaul of Jersey's Health Service could see a new hospital.... if the newly appointed Health Minister gets her way. Anne Pryke, who was appointed to the post this week, has today revealed what changes she would like to make to the embattled department. With around 3,000 employees to manage and a budget of £154 million, the Trinity Deputy knows that there was a big challenge ahead. Former Health Minister Jim Perchard, who resigned after a controversial row with Senator Stuart Syvret in the States, said that the General Hospital was 'impractical, old, tired and getting past its sell-by date'. (1)

Of course, this is just the time when (a) there is a credit crunch; (b) a refurbishment programme of various wards is going on, and costing goodness knows how much. The newer part of the hospital was built in 1979, with an extra part added on in 1987, so we can see that it must be pretty ancient by modern standards!

I can still remember the time before that when Gloucester Street used to be closed at nights from 7.00 pm so that hospital patients in the really old hospital would not be disturbed by traffic! Those were the days when President of Health and Social Services was rather a "safe job", and could guarantee the States member (such as Jack Roche) popularity with the electorate for protecting the health service budget from cuts. At what point, I wonder, did it suddenly become what the JEP terms "a poisoned chalice"?

But whereas the Victorians built to last, the modern climate is for "throwaway buildings". Just as smaller consumers throw away broken toasters, it is considered more effective to just start from scratch. Of course, if the building work was shoddy, and is now falling to bits, there might be good grounds for doing this rather than just "patch and mend", but that raises the question of how much should be built into new contracts about long term liability, in case the same thing happens again. If the workmanship was bad, or the materials defective, shouldn't there be - at the very least - a "name and shame" of the contractors who carried out the original work, some of which is barely 20 years old.

Some figures however, can see the light - this is from 2006, three years ago, and it is not building costs -only the costs of the surveyor (2):

General Hospital Mortuary Upgrade Phase II, St Helier, Jersey. Acting as Quantity Surveyor on the refurbishment of the mortuary, Jersey general hospital. Project Value £132,000.

General Hospital EN&T,  St Helier, Jersey. Acting as Quantity Surveyor on the refurbishment of the ENT, eyes, audio and clinical investigations department at the Jersey General Hospital, specialist focus on the audio treatment centre. Project Value £1,320,000.

When we delve into the States business plan (3) for 2006-2009, we get some more details on the refurbishment programme. This plan was made in 2006, and certainly seems to have been started, which is hardly surprising because we are approaching the end of the timescale for that plan.

This section of the General Hospital was built in 1987 and many of the fittings and services need upgrading including six lifts, ward kitchens, bathrooms and showers, ventilation and the provision of staff changing rooms.

H&SS General Hospital Upgrade (Phase 2) - Base Cost: 979,000 ; Fees: 51,000; Est Inflation: 145,000; Est Cost to Completion: 1,175,000

The General and Acute Hospital's existing tube system for the rapid transfer of drugs and specimens to and from wards to Pathology and Pharmacy was installed in 1992 and has undertaken 1.5 million movements. The system has been very successful but needs to be upgraded and extended to new areas. Cost of upgrade: £654,000

The Central Laundry batch washer was installed in 1993 and is now giving problems with wear and tear. It is forecast
that by 2008 it will need urgent replacement following 15 years of use. Cost of replacement: £500,000

2009: General and Acute Extension (Newgate Street: Phase 1): The extension to the General Hospital that forms this project will provide accommodation for a number of outpatient services that have grown since Phase 1 of the Hospital was built in 1979. Cost: £7,278,000

Now I would not believe as a matter of course anything printed in the JEP with such provocative headlines as "New Hospital on the Way?", but if this is the case, a lot of money has been spent already on refurbishing and upgrading existing facilities, and I do wonder- would this be another case like Le Roquier School - spend millions, then knock down and rebuild from scratch? Is this to be another example of the Brave New Word of "joined up government"?

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2009/05/02/new-hospital-on-the-way/
(2) http://www.curriebrown.com/Jersey/pe.php

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony

The entrenched problems with the health service in Jersey have nothing to do with the bricks and mortar of the building.

This is yet another diversionary tactic of the dysfunctional management.

The idea of a new hospital has not come from any politician but like all the other crazy ideas about the health needs of the island comes from the mis-managers of the service.

They can't deliver basic first world 21st century medicine, are unable to control the staff and demand that they work to high standards of practice and care. So what do they do? What will solve all the problems? Of course an expensive new building with lots of new toys for the doctors and nurses to play with.

And the blinded misinformed Jersey public sadly will go along with this shroud waving charade.

A new shiny building, an edifice of glass and concrete will not hide the day to day incompetence of those that run H&SS.

But this is the Jersey way and has served us well for years an years .... so who are we to question?