‘THE Policy Council discussed a number of issues relating to HSSD’s overspend, and HSSD’s anticipated response. The Policy Council understands that HSSD will be considering a range of options at its meeting tomorrow, and the Policy Council anticipates discussion of these ahead of the States meeting.’
Forty-six words from the island’s ‘Cabinet’ of government ministers. They contain not a scintilla of information, leadership or comfort for the hundreds of patients and healthcare staff whose Christmas has been ruined by HSSD’s unilateral decision to take an axe to services.
However, in its demonstration of a mastery of the art of saying nothing, Policy Council gives HSSD’s critics some hope. For by refusing to show support for the department the 10 ministers know they are leaving HSSD to face the wrath of a disappointed public alone.
If that lack of public backing translates into a lack of votes in the States, HSSD members will lose the vote of no confidence.
It may not come to that. The storm of protest at the sudden announcement of cuts may persuade board members to resign and either retreat from the battle or hope for re-election at the expense of the long-serving minister and his deputy.
None of which will be of any comfort to the families of the patients of Divette Ward or those whose Christmas present from HSSD is to be told that their elective surgeries are ‘non-urgent’ and their pain and discomfort do not warrant immediate care.
HSSD will say that it is not their fault. The budget was too small and they have no other way of saving money.
Even if that were true, they are still at fault for not persuading others of their argument. They failed to convince States members last December and they are still failing to convince Policy Council ministers, particularly Treasury and Resources.
All departments are under pressure to cut expenditure. Yet how many would reach for the self-destruct button by axing key services overnight? Would Culture close Beau Sejour, Housing chuck out its tenants, Education close schools?
And that’s why HSSD stands alone.