Elsewhere, it would be game over

WHEN Health and Social Services released its emergency Billet d’Etat late on Friday it did so hoping that its 20-page document would be sufficient explanation to demonstrate that no one could reasonably criticise the board for overspending its budget.

WHEN Health and Social Services released its emergency Billet d’Etat late on Friday it did so hoping that its 20-page document would be sufficient explanation to demonstrate that no one could reasonably criticise the board for overspending its budget.

If anything, however, it makes matters worse.

Yes, the Billet sets out what has made up the deficit – but it also exposes the rift between the Health minister and his colleagues on the Policy Council, who are not recommending acceptance of the report or overspend.

Perhaps worse than that, Treasury has also refused to endorse the explanation in a move that is rather like a company’s auditors refusing to sign off its accounts.

As the Treasury minister puts it, the department ‘is not in a position to give the States an assurance that the underlying reasons for expenditure being in excess of the budget allocation are as described by the HSSD’.

For Health, however, there is worse to come.

The head of the island’s civil service, Guernsey States chief executive, has just begun a review of HSSD that will – as a minimum – consider the adequacy of financial management within the department.

On top of that, Treasury wants that examination widened to see whether HSSD is demonstrating value for money and delivering the appropriate level of services in the most effective, efficient and economic manner.

That will have come from the newly appointed States Treasurer who was recruited, in part, because of her success in helping to turn around the finances at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

So while HSSD itself says that it ‘is satisfied that the forecast overspend is not associated with poor performance or any lack of effort to meet savings targets’, there is no such confidence being expressed by the Policy Council, T&R or the head of the civil service.

In any other walk of life, that would be game over. However, HSSD is hoping for the political equivalent of CPR if it can swing 24 votes its way, which remains possible.

From a taxpayer perspective, if they do survive it means that £2.5m. can go missing and yet again no one is responsible or accountable.