THE government’s review of the Our Hospital project was ‘overly ambitious’ on what it said it would deliver, lacked rigour and did not involve enough consultation, according to a damning new report.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s latest report – published today – also puts the money already written off on previous hospital projects in the Island at more than £38 million, and warns that this could rise even further.
Lynn Pamment said it was hard to see how the 100-day review on which ministers based their decision to abandon the previous government’s single-site project at Overdale – which was scrapped in favour of a multi-site approach – could have been expected to uncover new and meaningful information.
There were also significant gaps in information and costed plans available to ensure that the current government’s New Healthcare Facilities Programme could be ‘right-sized’ from the start and sufficiently future proofed, according to Ms Pamment.
She said: ‘Over the last ten years more than £130m has been spent by the States of Jersey on various hospital projects. It is important that key learning from the previous aborted projects is taken into the New Healthcare Facilities Programme.’
Ms Pamment highlighted the need for clarity regarding the government’s ambitions for Jersey’s health services, effective programme management, best practice on financial information and meaningful consultation with clinicians and stakeholders.
Her new report focuses on whether lessons were learnt from a previous CAG review in 2017, which was critical of the decision-making concerning the Future Hospital programme that would have seen a much larger hospital built on the Gloucester Street site. That project was abandoned by the States in 2019.
Looking at the government’s 100-day review of the Overdale alternative, she contrasted a lack of rigour in the current approach with the governance established for the Our Hospital project, which she described as ‘strong’.
‘Through clear reporting of decisions made, it is straightforward to see how progress against the established process was managed. In addition, the Our Hospital project established and published a set of critical success factors. There was consistency and continuity in the approach adopted,’ the report noted, while acknowledging concerns raised by the Public Accounts Committee about the transparency of the citizens’ panel used to help site selection.
The CAG expressed particular reservations about a number of aspects of the 100-day review conducted last year, noting that while some of the success factors it used to assess proposals cover the same ground as those used for the Our Hospital project at Overdale, others had not previously been identified as priorities.
‘It is not clear how the critical success factors for the review were decided on and the appraisal process demonstrates some limitations,’ the report states.
Meanwhile, it is also critical of the consultation process used in the latest review, which involved 25 meetings with 60 stakeholders, most held over a three-day period.
‘In my opinion, these stakeholder meetings did not enable comprehensive consultation about all options set out in the terms of reference. Rather the meetings acted more like communication meetings than open consultation,’ Ms Pamment noted.
Analysing the history of the Island’s hospital projects since the 2017 report, she noted that obtaining information on expenditure on the projects had been ‘more difficult than I would have expected’.