St Pier calls on HSC to launch a public appeal into concerns
A DEPUTY who is representing a growing list of families with serious complaints about paediatric and other health services has called on the Health & Social Care Committee to launch a public appeal for more traumatised parents to come forward.
Gavin St Pier said that a 17th family had contacted him over the weekend, just hours after the States agreed to note a report from an investigation panel which cleared him of abusing parliamentary privilege during a critical speech he made last year about safeguarding and clinical services and in which he named local doctor Sandie Bohin.
‘Given the increasing number of families that continue to contact me with harrowing and shocking experiences, I ask that HSC proactively facilitate a public appeal for those with historic or current concerns to come forward, guaranteeing them that there will be no negative repercussions arising for them,’ said Deputy St Pier in the States.
‘We need to stop spending time and resources obfuscating and hiding our failings and spend time understanding what has happened, supporting those that have suffered harm and ensuring that permanent change is effected.’
Deputy St Pier also asked HSC urgently to commission an independent inspection of paediatrics – the branch of medicine dealing with children and their diseases. He would like an inspection to assess historic cases of concern and the current quality of care, behaviours and culture.
‘Only in this way can Guernsey families, taxpayers and [the States] Assembly be reassured that the risk of further trauma and harm to vulnerable families has been mitigated,’ he said.
‘For so long as they wish me to do so, I will continue to represent those Guernsey families whose experience of a child’s serious illness, or sadly in some cases death, has been compounded by unacceptable behaviours. These situations cannot and must not continue.’
Deputy St Pier’s controversial speech last year sparked the island’s first investigation into whether a deputy had abused parliamentary privilege, which provides States members with complete immunity from prosecution over any words spoken in the Assembly.
The investigation panel of long-serving politicians cleared him by a 3-2 majority and on Friday its findings were noted by the States by 17 votes to 16.
Deputy St Pier said his speech of last year had led to many more families approaching him with serious concerns about health services, in particular those provided by medical specialists.
‘[Only] last Friday, the mother and father of a two-year-old came to see me with a draft 15-page, 9,000-word letter of complaint which they are about to lodge with the leadership of the States,’ said Deputy St Pier.
‘They are only doing so because, through my speaking in the States, they had become aware that when their child was born the very negative experience that they had was not an isolated event. Shockingly, they learned from my speech that they were treated in the same or similar way as others.’
Policy & Resources president Peter Ferbrache, who sat on the privileges panel and was one of the two members who believed there had been an abuse of privilege, has condemned Deputy St Pier’s behaviour, accusing him of acting out of ‘prejudice and bias and a personal grudge’ against Dr Bohin.
Deputy Ferbrache said Dr Bohin had told him that Deputy St Pier had demanded that health bosses should sack her and ‘wanted her head on a stick’, adding that he believed Dr Bohin ‘absolutely, unequivocally and unreservedly’.
‘Anyone who knows me knows that I would never use the language cited,’ said Deputy St Pier, before relaying statements in support of his assertion from several families who were present at meetings at which he was alleged to have made the remarks about Dr Bohin.