Bid for a recruitment freeze at Jersey's Public Health Department

Andy Howell (37089968)

A NINE-FOLD increase in employees within the Public Health team over the past five years has prompted a call from a backbench politician for a recruitment freeze while the government justifies the expanded head-count.

Deputy Andy Howell, a member of the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel, has lodged an amendment to the Government Plan for 2024–27 in a bid to make the change.

In the report accompanying her amendment, Deputy Howell outlines the growth of the Public Health team from seven full-time positions in 2019 to 51.5 this year, as well as a government proposal for a further increase to 61 for 2024.

While acknowledging that posts have been transferred into Public Health from several other areas, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deputy Howell has questioned the sustainability of some funding elements and called for a full business case to be produced.

“Overall, there is a lack of cohesive whole,” she stated. “This amendment does not seek to take funding from the Public Health function. It merely seeks some clarity about the business case for the function as a whole – and transparency and scrutiny of both the aims of the function and the number of [staff] required.”

In her report, Deputy Howell outlines the proposed make-up of the Public Health team for 2024, from the Government Plan, in terms of full-time employees, as follows:

  • 32 for the core public health team.

  • 11 for reducing preventable diseases.

  • Five for the child health team.

  • 3.5 for the health promotion team.

  • 9.5 to support existing major incident recovery posts.

The amendment seeks to add wording to the relevant part of the Government Plan as follows: “The funding provided for the public health function is predicated upon a freeze on any recruitment within the service, whether due to increases in staff numbers or fulfilment of vacancies, until a full business case for the public health function has been produced, scrutinised, and approved.”

The Government Plan, including a raft of amendments, is set to be debated at the States Assembly sitting, which starts on Tuesday 12 December.

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