P&R losing out on the credit for KE VII plans

HAS the Policy & Resources Committee been over-ambitious in pursuing such a wide-ranging course of action on the States property portfolio?

Given the controversy arising over its plans to build something other than one and two-bedroomed homes on the surrounds of the Castel Hospital – which in some lights could be read as ‘green fields in the Castel countryside’ – one wonders how progress on property rationalisation might have been viewed had it decided just to park its thoughts on the former country hospital for a while, especially as the building itself is still being used by Health & Social Care staff.

The proposed redevelopment of the King Edward VII Hospital – opened in 1902 to treat people with infectious diseases, and finally closed in 2014 when its purpose was rehabilitation and day-hospital services for older islanders with physical needs – has almost entirely been overtaken by wrangling over the Castel Hospital.

Deputy Dave Mahoney, property lead at the Policy & Resources Committee, said that a couple of options are on the table for the site – using part of it as a new care home, working with an established provider, adding another 50-60 beds to the current stock on-island, and a more adventurous development of a care village across the entire site.

We’re not clear whether this would be a joint venture proposition or a private arrangement – 'commercially sensitive' discussions are ongoing.

While the practicalities of the development will obviously be of interest, the signal this potential investment sends is critically important for now and the future.

At present a chronic shortage of care home beds in the community mean that some patients ready for release from the PEH are unable to leave unless they can safely return to their homes, leading to knock-on delays with operations at the hospital.

The KE VII will be only a first step in improving this issue, which is only going to get even more difficult, given the impending demographic timebomb facing the island, but others are mooted to follow – the Mallard site in the Forest may be one.

It doesn’t resolve how such care beds will be staffed, but the intention to both tidy up this site and put it to work should be welcomed.

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