Alderney’s medical centre is taken over by governments

ALDERNEY’S only medical practice has been bought by the States of Alderney and States of Guernsey – a move which has been expected for the past few months – for what the States of Alderney has described as ‘nil cost’.

But the impact of the States having to support medical services in the island is costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Alderney estimates that new arrangements for GP services and its emergency ambulance will cost some £680,000 this year and it has set aside a further £500,000 of reserves for next year too for what it described as a ‘worst-case scenario’.

Island Medical Centre will continue to operate for at least the next six months, with support from Queens Road Medical Practice, which will continue to provide locum doctors.

In May, the practice threatened closure after its only doctor, Simon Hamilton, said he was exhausted and in danger of burnout.

Island Medical took over in 2016 when the surgery was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Alderney Policy & Finance chairman Ian Carter said he hoped the practice would be more financially viable under the new ownership.

‘I don’t see that [financial difficulties] happening with all the effort that has going into this – it isn’t just to replicate what has happened in the past.

‘The island has benefited from six years of Mr and Mrs Gordon Fitton’s ownership which, supported by the team of doctors, nurses and administrative staff, has delivered an essential community service. The ownership change will help support the longer-term strategy for greater coordination between all of the island’s health and care services. The business has effectively been given to the States at nil cost.’

The States of Alderney announced yesterday its use of its ‘mini property boom’ windfall had reduced fears of a huge increase in Alderney Property Tax. The States is planning a 9% rise in its relatively new tax, which it said would mean a ‘modest increase’ of between £1 and £3 a week for householders in the island.

Dr Simon Hamilton, who said in May he was exhausted and in danger of burnout. Staff from Queens Road Medical Practice have since been supporting the centre.

‘The sudden need for the States to take responsibility for the Island Medical Centre and the restructuring of the ambulance service presented as acute and immediate problem with unprecedented pressure on our budget,’ said Finance Committee chairman Chris Harris.

‘Any increase in property tax is unwelcome, but the efforts of professionals across the Bailiwick has led, ultimately, to an excellent and consistent level of healthcare for all islanders this year and into the future.’

The Alderney Care Board will be overseeing discussions about the island’s long-term healthcare provision, with representation from Deputy Al Brouard and Aidan Matthews, Mr Carter and Alderney States member Boyd Kelly. Guernsey’s Policy & Resources lead on matters relating to Bailiwick relationship, Mark Helyar, will act as chairman.

‘With the support of both islands, plans are developing for a more resilient and sustainable model of care which supports the health and wellbeing of Alderney residents and encourages providers to work closely together to shape service offerings,’ said Deputy Helyar.

‘These discussions are very important and the successful acquisition of Island Medical Limited is the first step. We will be able to provide further information in the coming months.’

. The cost of an GP appointment in Alderney is currently £56.70.

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