Guernsey Press

P&R confident strategic leadership team acted with the best of intentions

Staff how advise Policy & Resources acted with the best of intentions when trying to handle projected cost increases in hospital modernisation project, a statement from Policy & Resources has said, as it refutes the suggestion there has been a cover-up by its advisers.

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Deputy Lyndon Trott. (33250353)

It was revealed former project officers were advised of a potential £30m. cost increase in the £120m. project in February 2023, months before the States agreed the project based on the £120m. costing and more than a year before all deputies were informed.

When this came to light in March, it was confirmed those staff no longer worked for the States.

‘It is unacceptable that the updated estimates received in February 2023 were not shared wider than a small number of staff,’ the statement from P&R confirmed.

‘Having worked closely with the head of the public service to consider who knew what and when, the committee is confident that staff acted with the best of intentions, and it categorically refutes any suggestion that officials advising the committee sought to “cover up” anything.

‘However, it has reaffirmed that it is not appropriate for there to be any delays in communication to members, which has been acknowledged by the head of the public service, and should not be repeated in the future.’

Health & Social Care and its current senior advisors were unaware of the potential increase in costs at the time of the October 2023 debate on the Funding & Investment Plan.

Policy & Resources president Lyndon Trott said it was clear there were lessons to be learned from the situation.

‘However, we have nothing to hide and are committed to being open with the community as well as the political body,’ he said.

‘Our committee is satisfied that officers currently employed by the States of Guernsey and advising us and other committees acted with the best intentions as they worked to establish the accuracy of the new estimates, and to ensure that solutions to any cost increases could be found.’

A number of deputies have raised concerns about how the matter was handled.

Deputy Trott said it was not justifiable for some States members to ‘publicly undermine the public sector with accusations of cover-ups and conspiracies without first establishing the facts’.

Head of the public service Mark de Garis said the cost increases were investigated once they were discovered.

‘This was a complex task and needed time to complete before officers could fully and accurately report the position and present options.'

He said his staff had been looking to find solutions to make the project work within the £120m. agreed.

‘There are estimated significant cost pressures on the project, but the cost envelope remains £120m. and the Committee for Health & Social Care has committed to returning the matter to the Assembly if it is unable to deliver the project at that cost,’ he said.

‘There is no current overspend. Work to reduce the current estimate continues.’

  • Definition of a ‘cover-up’ from the Merriam-Webster dictionary – ‘a usually concerted effort to keep an illegal or unethical act or situation from being made public.’