Guernsey Press

HSC president claims staff hid £30m. spike in PEH project costs

Health president Al Brouard has revealed that States officials kept him in the dark for nearly a year about the soaring costs of redeveloping the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.

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HSC president Deputy Al Brouard. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32988583)

The Guernsey Press recently uncovered that the estimated cost of phase two of the project had increased by up to £30m. – from £120m. to £150m.

But Deputy Brouard shocked deputies yesterday when he told the States Assembly that some staff had known about the cost increase by February last year but concealed it from him and his committee members until December.

‘It is unacceptable that these updated estimates were not shared wider than a small number of staff,’ said Deputy Brouard.

‘We feel let down by this. The committee has been misled as much as States members.

  • Hear reaction from Deputy Al Brouard and P&R president Lyndon Trott on our Shorthand States podcast

‘As politicians, we rely on really good quality information from the civil service. We are not at the coal face. We are paying substantial funds to advisors to make sure we have the best information. When we get let down, we get let down badly.’

Health & Social Care vice-president Tina Bury admitted that the fiasco was one of the reasons behind her announcement, made 24 hours earlier, that she intended to resign from the committee.

‘Information was withheld from the committee regarding the hospital project. While that is not the sole reason I have resigned, it is representative of the openness and transparency concerns that have led me to this decision,’ said Deputy Bury.

The election to replace her, which is likely to be held at the States meeting on 24 April, could feature at least two heavyweights, after former Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier and former treasury lead Mark Helyar announced they were considering standing.

During nearly an hour of questions in the Assembly, Deputy Brouard accepted that he and his committee were responsible for errors and oversights on the PEH redevelopment project.

‘The fact we may not know everything which does happen or cannot influence it or we get given information which is incorrect, it is the committee’s responsibility and that goes without saying,’ he said.

‘This is a blip. It’s very unfortunate. I apologise on behalf of the committee that you didn’t know and staff have apologised to me that we didn’t know.’

But he brushed aside questions from the media about whether he was considering resigning and instead vowed to get the PEH project under control.

He revealed that the staff who had concealed information about the soaring costs no longer worked for the States and that he and his committee members were now playing a more active role overseeing the project.

‘We as politicians do rely on services provided through our civil service. There has been a substantial change of personnel,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately, we have been let down on this occasion, and we have made it very clear that we are not going to be let down again.

‘The governance will improve.’

Deputy Brouard said his committee was now leading a review of the project. If it could not find cost savings without reducing the quality or scope of facilities, it would take the project and budget back to the Assembly for further debate and approval.

HSC had previously said phase one should be completed this month, but it now expects it to be fully operational in autumn this year. Phase one is being completed at a fixed price of £34m.

  • Find full States coverage inside Thursday’s Press