Resignation increases the pressure

EVERY 24 hours, the Health and Social Services Department spends approaching £300,000, which equates to £616 every minute of an eight-hour day.

EVERY 24 hours, the Health and Social Services Department spends approaching £300,000, which equates to £616 every minute of an eight-hour day.

It goes without saying, therefore, that the financial and other controls on that £108m. annual budget need to be of the highest quality.

Unfortunately, they are not. The department’s well publicised overspends revealed that its accounts department was under-strength and it has now had to admit that it hasn’t a clue about  how much it has spent on bowel cancer screening.

So what other leakage is the biggest spending States department experiencing? That answer is that no one knows but it is equally certain that taxpayers’ money is being wasted or being spent inefficiently.

What is the political board doing, 12 months after replacing the previous underperforming board, to rectify this? If the talk in States circles is correct, not enough.

The resignation of one member has highlighted the tensions at the top and the Policy Council is said to have concerns about the way the department is being run.

In particular, some States members are wondering whether they made the right choice in the current Health minister rather than giving the job to Housing’s Dave Jones.

It appears the strategic and financial difficulties HSSD has are compounded by political factionalism, the revisiting of previous decisions and poor chairmanship.

This is disturbing. Not only does HSSD command the biggest slice of public funding, it is also responsible for the health and well-being of all those in the Bailiwick and islanders should be able to expect an at least adequate board to oversee it.

In addition, the department has to renegotiate a contract with the medical specialists, which has already been held up as an example of poor value for money, and press ahead with implementing its 2020 Vision.

That document, under the previous chief officer, exposed the conflicting health drivers

between GPs and specialists and the lack of accountability or policing of standards. Yet following his unexpected and unexplained departure it now appears as directionless as the board itself.

HSSD is at risk of losing the confidence of islanders and States members.