THE Health Minister has apologised to rehabilitation patients and committed to ‘looking at all options’ regarding returning services to Samarès Ward or finding a suitable alternative.
During yesterday’s States debate, Deputy Richard Renouf admitted: ‘Right at the outset, I want to acknowledge that for some patients in Plémont Ward, Health and Care Services has not delivered its services to the standards it aspires to.’
In a ministerial U-turn at the 11th hour on Tuesday night, Deputy Renouf sent an email to all States Members announcing that the government would withdraw its amendment opposing Senator Steve Pallett’s proposal, which looked to reinstate the rehabilitation ward or find an equal alternative ‘as a matter of urgency’. His proposition also called for a ‘temporary purpose-built’ facility to be constructed while the ward at Overdale was demolished to make way for the new hospital.
Plémont Ward, the 14-bed general unit at the Hospital where services were transferred in 2020, had ‘insufficient bed space’ compared to Samarès’ 28 beds, Senator Pallett told States Members yesterday. He called it a ‘damaging relocation’ to ‘cramped’ conditions, with patients and families enduring ‘substandard services’.
The former Assistant Health Minister said: ‘If allowing Samarès Ward to stay closed for so long is not a scandal of the highest order, then I do not know what is.’
Withdrawing his amendment, Deputy Renouf said: ‘To those patients who feel their voices haven’t been heard, I apologise’, adding that the department was now ‘trying to rebuild’ the ‘Samarès ethos’.
Deputy Renouf committed to looking ‘at all options’, whether that was returning services to Samarès or finding ‘another suitable location’ as identified in Senator Pallett’s proposition, and said he would report back to States Members no later than 1 March.
Pressure had been building on the government in the weeks since the proposition was lodged, as stroke survivors urged the States to reopen the ward and Constable Andy Jehan raised concerns about the state of rehabilitation services in the Island, prompting the government to respond that occupational therapy and physiotherapy services were ‘operating as normal’.
Senator Pallett stressed that staff on Plémont Ward were not to be blamed, they had ‘done their very best to support patients’, but been hampered by a lack of equipment and poor facilities.
Mr Jehan also thanked frontline staff at the Hospital. The St John Constable said patients were being discharged too early and needed longer rehabilitation, but not on an acute ward: ‘People will continue to suffer lifelong disabilities that are avoidable.’
In an emotional speech, Mr Jehan said he had watched families struggle to help their loved ones on a weekly basis.
States Members voted in favour of Senator Pallett’s proposal 45 to nil with no abstentions.