‘Health Minister put in untenable position’

‘Health Minister put in untenable position’

The comments from Deputy Kevin Pamplin were made yesterday afternoon, when Assistant Treasury Minister, Deputy Lindsay Ash, also warned that if alternative hospital sites were chosen, in line with the report’s recommendations, then the £30 million already spent on the current site would ‘pretty much disappear’.

Deputy Pamplin said that Health Minister Richard Renouf’s consistent rejection of recommendations in the report presented by Assistant Chief Minister Chris Taylor put Deputy Renouf in an untenable position.

‘One of the big problems about the poor political decisions of the past,’ Deputy Pamplin said, ‘was that the client was the Health Department, and that’s what is coming through now, from the new people involved in Health. They should be involved in delivering a new strategy and a new hospital.

‘And if the Health Minister himself is rejecting some of these recommendations, then we have a clash, and potential division within the Council of Ministers. Is the Health Minister’s position tenable?’

Meanwhile, Deputy Ash said that, from a Treasury point of view, the recommendations of Constable Taylor’s report, which recommended investigating alternative sites, would bring significant funding implications.

‘At the moment, the bond [to fund the hospital project] is on hold,’ he said. ‘The bond is designated to the current site. Until we are 100 per cent certain that the States is committed to that site, we cannot draw down.

‘We run the risk until the bond is drawn of interest rates moving. We have been fairly lucky so far that we haven’t seen a great deal of movement in the terms of our bond. That could change massively as a result of the Brexit deal if the banks decide they need to protect the pound.’

Commenting on the possibility of changing the project to a new site, he added: ‘I think we have probably spent nearly £30 million already. That would pretty much disappear. We would have to start again with planning permissions, site inspections and feasibility studies.

‘I don’t know how much of the work done can be salvaged if we move to a new site. Most of the money has gone on developing this project. If we are delaying it further, then more money would also have to be spent on keeping certain bits of the current hospital in a usable state.’

Constable Simon Crowcroft, in whose parish the current site and Constable Taylor’s two favoured sites – the Waterfront and Overdale – are located, said that he had not been consulted by Constable Taylor’s review board.

‘We have not been approached directly for our feedback,’ he said. ‘As the Constable of the parish directly affected, I have not had any kind of heads-up.’

On the question of sites, he added that, judging from many conversations with his parishioners, ‘the vast majority of the public believe that the current site is wrong’.

However, he said that if the current site was discarded, he would like to see the compulsory purchase of properties on Kensington Place, which have already taken place, being used as a spur for much-needed investment to regenerate that street, which ‘had been neglected’ in the past.

Despite repeated pressure in a Scrutiny hearing yesterday, Deputy Renouf declined to comment further on his position until the Council of Ministers had reached a verdict on the report.

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