Jersey health board plan ‘to provide clear lines of accountability’

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THE Health Minister has proposed an interim board to ensure ‘clear lines of accountability’ within her department and improve transparency, according to a report.

The new board – which has been proposed in response to a recommendation from a damning report conducted by Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor last year – would include one chair, five executive directors and five non-executive directors and require approval by the States Assembly.

Prof Mascie-Taylor’s report alleged that a ‘Jersey Way’, ‘bullying’ and a ‘bias against standardisation’ in Health were threatening patient safety and that an updated health board with new leadership was part of the solution.

In her report, Deputy Karen Wilson said that she often needed to hold executive directors to account during Health Department meetings.

Under the existing Health board, the minister ‘single-handedly’ held executive directors to account, which was a ‘sub-optimal arrangement’, Deputy Wilson said.

‘The interim board will bring together the skills, knowledge and experience needed to critically examine and constructively challenge the Health and Community Services Department,’ she added.

‘It [the board] will provide the foundations for an effective governance system based on structured, informed decision-making and clear lines of accountability, rather than being dependent on individuals, which will make it “easy to do the right thing and difficult to do the wrong thing”.’

The interim board would last for a maximum of three years, and the proposal is due to be debated in the States Assembly on 23 May.

‘The interim board will provide the collective knowledge, expertise and skills needed to lead the department, ensure informed, robust challenge and assure the quality and safety of services – as distinct from the minister, as a single, lone figure who may have no professional knowledge of health service provision,’ Deputy Wilson said.

The board would include up to five non-executive directors from a range of professional backgrounds, which should include medical, nursing, social services or strategic finance professions. According to the report, the appointment of the new non-executive directors would aim to demonstrate accountability and transparency.

‘Accountability is about more than knowing who is to blame when something goes wrong,’ said Deputy Wilson. ‘It is about how the minister determines and specifies what the minister wishes to achieve on behalf of Islanders; how the interim board works to deliver this; how the interim board ensures good performance; and how action is taken when performance is unsatisfactory.

‘The interim board will strengthen the department’s accountability to the minister, and hence to the people of Jersey, by providing a clear conduit between the minister and the department.’

Enhancing transparency within the Health Department was an issue which the Health Minister aimed to resolve.

‘The public may attend and observe all board meetings,’ said Deputy Wilson. ‘Whilst they may not ask questions during a board meeting, once the meeting has ended, they may ask questions about any matter discussed in the meeting.

‘All papers, agendas, and minutes will be published. This will include data on the performance of the department – such as waiting lists, the safety of its services, such as infection control, serious incidents, staffing levels, financial management and compliance.’

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