Starting with the Hospital
How do we make sense of the story in the JEP on August 2nd, when we read, under the headline “HOSPITAL IN URGENT NEED OF UPGRADE”, the following:
“The building has a lack of fire evacuation procedures, raw sewage leaks, a maternity unit with facilities behind those of a developing country, and practices still in place which were stopped in the NHS over 20 years ago.”
This is the General Hospital in one of the richest places on earth. How can this be? The JEP commented next day:
“Particularly disturbing is the hospital sewage system’s inability to cope, to the extent that there are leaks of raw effluent every couple of weeks. Anything more inappropriate and, frankly, appalling in an environment where cleanliness is a paramount concern is hard to imagine.
If we have grown accustomed to the idea that our health facilities put those of the much-maligned UK National Health Service in the shade, it is time to reassess our beliefs.
It is also time to ask questions about how the hospital has been allowed to slip into such serious decline. At present, cash is in short supply, but the problems that have now been identified have not emerged over a few weeks, months or even years.”
And so on to Clinique Pinel.
Here is part of the Press Release explaining why the Council of Ministers had decided to ask for emergency top-up funding of over £1 1/2 million to refurbish Clinique Pinel:
Press Release re Clinique Pinel
Clinique Pinel provides assessment and treatment units for people over the age of 65 who suffer from mental illnesses, but the current facilities are not considered to be fit for purpose. The design of the building is not conducive to modern mental health care standards and there are limited bathing facilities with no showers and small, dormitory-style bedrooms.
“I (i.e. Senator Ozouf) recently visited Clinique Pinel and it was apparent from my visit that this work cannot be delayed and is absolutely essential in order to bring conditions for residents up to a minimum acceptable standard.”
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Pryke, said: “This funding will be used to meet the cost of a capital project that has been outstanding for a number of years.” (my emphasis)
Indeed! It has been known since 1998 that “something should be done” about the Clinic – reports were written, Acts were passed between committees but it never happened – until now, 13 years later. The full account of how the States has failed the island’s most vulnerable residents is here and is an object lesson in the strangulation, the lethargy caused by simply not having enough money to get the job done.
And then the prison
– only after TWO damning reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons was our Prison finally given the funding it needed. I wonder how that goes down in Whitehall. Here are extracts from the 2005 Report:
“This inspection found some serious deficits in the processes and procedures needed to support that varied group of prisoners. Few of the recommendations in our previous report in 2001 had been actioned four years later. As a consequence, the safety and security of prisoners and staff, and the likelihood of prisoners’ rehabilitation, were compromised.”
“Crucially, the prison had no reliable prisoner database. As a result, it was unable to assess prisoners’ needs or seek to meet them.”
“Prisoners were rarely locked in their cells. However, there was not enough for them to do. There was very little by way of education or training, to try to provide prisoners with the skills they might need to gain employment on release, and to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. Education amounted to 25 hours of one teacher’s time; there was little full-time employment, and what there was was mundane or domestic. This meant that prisoners entering La Moye were likely to leave without experiencing the positive interventions that might make it less likely that they would reoffend. “ (my emphasis throughout)
Anne Owers September 2005
HM Chief Inspector of Prisons
Investment from the States was at last forthcoming in 2007 and from then on.
It is to the island’s lasting shame that for decades the States ran an incinerator with NO flue gas cleaning equipment at all. The public’s health came second to the mantra of “we must spend as little as possible”
We live in a complex society, and it costs money to deal with the consequences, and Bellozanne is a prime example of how not to face up to that responsibility. What were States members thinking as they continued to do nothing?
Again it took report after report, Cathy Bull, the Simon Bellwood affair, and finally Williamson, before the States finally put their hands in their pocket and admitted – yes, we have to do this, we have to do it properly, and we will have to find the money to care for and protect vulnerable children. Again in a perfect world, this expense would not be necessary, but we do not live in a perfect world, do we?
And now just two mundane examples of what I mentioned in the page on “The TRUTH about States spending” – how we treat our staff:
First the Probation service:
“The enactment of the Sex Offenders (Jersey) Law in January 2011 is another development which will give the Probation Service yet further administrative and management problems to be addressed and will place even more strain on already stretched services.
“Whilst some new resources have been made available, the Comprehensive Spending Review is having, and will continue to have, a heavy impact on the efficiency and innovation that has been the hallmark of the service. As a result of its competences, even greater workloads are taken on by a dedicated team who already work beyond reasonable limits. Whilst it is fair to say that there is now a better political understanding of the wide range of work that the Probation Service does and its value to the community, that does not detract from the difficulty of motivating and retaining staff in an atmosphere of financial uncertainty.”
From: JERSEY PROBATION AND AFTER-CARE SERVICE, Annual Report for 2010 and Business Plan 2011
And the Environmental Protection division:
- · The budget and manpower of Environmental Protection is stretched.
- Environmental Protection frequently reviews and prioritises activity to account for incoming work and to provide the best level of protection possible for the environment.
- · Any further activities placed on the section will require further workload rationalisation.
- · The high work load is a constraint on officers updating themselves on best practise elsewhere and maintaining Continuing Professional Development (CPD) qualifications for chartered status.
- · Despite these constraints Environmental Protection achieves and promotes a high level of environmental protection in the Island.
“Manpower and budget resources in Environmental Protection are extremely stretched – they have not increased over recent years and have not benefited from a recent assessment of the resources, given the expansion of the remit.”
From Submissions by Environmental protection, Planning And Environment Department to the Environment Scrutiny Panel Review into Protecting Our Marine Environment
These two documents from the Probation Service and from the Environmental Protection team clearly point to organisations running under strain and too near to potential collapse. Some may think it is cool and “”efficient” to make work demands of this nature of professional staff. But in reality it just shows that the \States is not a good employer; it is bad for morale and bad for outcomes, and we will eventually lose essential people. No one likes to be treated as if the work they do is not valued.
NOW TRY TO SQUARE ALL THE ABOVE WITH THIS:
“I want to be clear that I absolutely committed to delivering the £65 million in saving. This is not a short term plan. This is the start of a 5 to 10 year strategy to deliver both savings, and a revitalised, reorganised, rejuvenated public sector.”
From Philip Ozouf blog, July 12th 2011 Click here for link to source.
He says that his goal is a a “revitalised, reorganised, rejuvenated public sector” – and then proceeds to cut the funding which they need to operate.
Even the Council of Ministers now acknowledge that over and above the matters above, which show that low tax and low spend just is not an adequate response to the modern world, there is a massive backlog of expenditure which will have to be paid for somehow: replacing our sewerage system at a cost of over £150 million and the housing maintenance backlog of £64 million to name but two.
Everything has been put off and put off, and now it is time to do the job.
For the sort of thinking we will need as to how this will all be funded, see the next page: “So where is the money coming from?_______________________________________________
But it is not just disasters
which need to be avoided and sewers which need mending.
This picture should make us stop and think. Where is the ambition? Where is the desire to make the island a better place to live? Where is the vision? It feels like we are being ruled by the Men in Gray. We ARE being ruled by the Men in Gray.
For example, providing a modest green lung in the shape of theTownPark took ten years of struggle. So many States members argued against it, voted against it. How could they do this?
Townspeople have a right to green space, trees, birds and flowers like country people.
Let us get on and make a better Jersey we can all be proud of.