‘Robust’ system to enable return of hospital visiting

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A ‘ROBUST’ system will be put in place at the Hospital to allow Islanders who can prove that they do not have Covid-19 to visit loved ones.

During an emergency debate in the States yesterday, Members overwhelmingly supported Deputy Montfort Tadier’s proposal, which he lodged in response to what he called a ‘barbaric’ current temporary ban on most visitors.

The temporary restrictions closed all adult wards in the Hospital – and mental-health wards in St Saviour – to the majority of visitors.

The government announced the changes last week, when several inpatients in the Hospital tested positive for Covid-19 after a small number of visitors came in with symptoms.

The government said the measures would be reviewed this week.

In his proposition, Deputy Tadier called for visits to be reinstated in a safe way, suggesting that Islanders should present a recent negative lateral-flow test on their arrival at the Hospital.

He also called for Health Minister Deputy Renouf to ‘instigate a robust system to keep people who do have Covid-19 from visiting people in hospital’ as a ‘matter of urgency’.

Addressing States Members yesterday, Deputy Tadier said: ‘We are all united that we want to keep Covid out of the Hospital.’

Deputy Renouf confirmed that he would support the proposal in the Assembly, saying his department would ‘continue to try and find a safe solution’, but added: ‘I do not expect something is going to be dreamed up in a day or two.

‘We are running the risk of politicising hospital services, if we believe we know better. I trust the people who are trained to do this.’

During the debate, St Clement Constable Marcus Troy shared a personal story, revealing that he had undergone 12 rounds of chemotherapy and spent several months in the Hospital in 2020, and praising the clinical staff who had helped him.

He said: ‘You have to accept that it is the Hospital. You have to go by the rules that the clinicians set. They are the experts. How dare we argue with them to the extent that we put other people in danger?’

Deputy Rob Ward argued that his fellow Reform Jersey politician’s proposal was an ‘opportunity to provide better protection for those working at the Hospital’, while Deputy Carolyn Labey said: ‘It might seem an easy measure just to ban people from the Hospital but it is not the right one.’

And Deputy Jess Perchard said that pursuing a ‘sensible and proportionate solution is a reasonable request’.

Speaking to the JEP after the debate, Deputy Tadier said: ‘I just hope that a sensible and safe position will be forthcoming. I would expect them to make some changes next week.’

He added: ‘It has been a long two years and most people have done everything that the government has asked of them. I think it is important that the government’s response is also reasonable and measured when it comes to imposing any restrictions.’

A total of 40 States Members voted for the proposition, with three Members – Mr Troy, Deputy Scott Wickenden and Constable Richard Vibert – voting against, while Deputy Gregory Guida abstained.

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