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Statement by the President of the Committee for Health & Social Care

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Wednesday 16 December 2020

General Update

Thank you sir,

Before I get into the meat of my statement I would just like to thank you all States members for the support you have given me since taking the role, as I may not have time at the end of the speech. My special thanks to the very able four members who have joined me on HSC, and congratulations to Alderney Representative Snowdon who endured an Alderney election - and then a plebiscite just to get back on HSC. 

I am delighted to be providing my first statement today as the President of the Committee forHealth & Social Care.

In 2011 when the States debated the then HSSD's 2020 Vision, no one could have imagined just how significant 2020 would be for health and care providers across the world. We have reached an important milestone today with the firstCOVID vaccinesdue to be administered locally tomorrow, having been designated by the Committee last week for use in the Bailiwick, but we cannot be complacent. The threat of COVID is not over, not only do we have a complex vaccination programme to coordinate and deliver but we continue to remain vulnerable to the risks presented by the virus itself which is why the dedicated Medical Cell continues to work to ensure preparedness in the hospital and across the community.

Covid-19 is the biggest challenge the health and care system has faced in living memory. It has also shown the system at its best; the dedication and skill of staff, the flexibility of providers to work beyond traditional organisational boundaries and the ability for the whole island to come together to protect our health and wellbeing. But it has also illustrated why new ways of working adopted since March need to become not a "new normal" but "the normal".

When elected President, I made it clear that health is a cross-Committee responsibility. For too long we have spoken of health in all policies, of all Committees taking steps to reduce health inequities, but, really it is only as a result of COVID that health has really now been pushed up the agendas and we cannot let that slip.

One of the first decisions taken by our Committee was to endorse the policy principles underlining the Partnership of Purpose,rather than reviewing this which will save at least a year of time. We consider this direction of travel is even more important in the context of our recovery from COVID-19. It is essential that we work together across government, across the islands, to reshape the Bailiwick's approach to health and care in a way which allows islanders fair access to solutions that meet their health and care needs.

We are determined to build on the momentum of the last term to deliver this change. Of course, we need to review priorities in light of COVID to ensure that, not only are we able to concentrate resources to address the backlogs which have arisen during the pandemic in some specialisms and ensuring that we remain prepared for any future waves of the virus, but in a way that we can also support the greatest possible improvements in health and care for everyone, well beyond the immediate crisis. 

A key to this is upgrading the hospital site through Our Hospital Modernisation which is the second multi million pound decision made to press ahead and not revisit- "action this day".Since proposals were approved by the Assembly in March 2019, consultation with the clinical teams across HSC, the MSG and external specialist design team has allowed staff to develop what is considered the optimal plan for the phased development of the hospital site. This will see, in Phase 1, the development of the Critical Care Unit into a larger, more flexible unit, and a refurbished Post surgery Care Unit, again providing increased capacity as well as the flexibility to provide additional critical care beds if needed. Phase 1 will also include new storage and change facilities for Theatre and enabling infrastructure works. This is a change in sequence from the initial scope for Phase 1 presented to the previous Assembly but remains within the funding allocated for this Phase. I am pleased that the planning application for Phase 1 has been approved with building work on track to start next year.

While Phase 1 could stand alone as an individual upgrade to the hospital, the full benefits of the modernisation of the site depends on the progression of Phase 2 - which will incorporate among other areas, Paediatrics, Maternity, Theatres, Day and Private Patients - and Phase 3 which would see developments to the Emergency Department, Fracture Clinic and Orthopaedic Unit. The Committee intends to report to the Assembly within 2021 as phases 2 and 3 are still to be agreed and they need to align with the consideration of the 2021-2024 Capital Portfolio.

Work is also ongoing on Our e-Heath recordproject with a preferred bidder due to be selected early next year. An agreement has been reached with the current supplier to ensure continuity during the implementation phase of a new system. Work also continues on our community serviceswith a dedicated Community Care Joint Working Group in place to facilitate collaborative working and remedial work completed at the Castel Hospital site. There are also plans progressing for a Children & Family Services Hub.

HSC is, of course, a broad mandate and neither I nor my Committee can have all the answers today. We are learning and we are listening. We know that we have some difficult decisions ahead of us, how to make primary care more affordable, how to best support those children in our care and how to make the most of the reform of health care funding approved by the Assembly last term but we are determined to make real and tangible progress this term. We will be returning to the Assembly next year with Policy Letters on the Children Law, on a Combined Substance Use Strategy and on primary care. We want to move forward with the development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Centreas quickly as possible and there is a mature programme of cost and service improvements, designed to optimise services, save money and improve patient outcomes. Later this week, we will be issuing information to all States members on the role of Corporate Parents - one of the important roles that we have been entrusted with as States' members - and I hope in the new year to invite all members to a presentation on the Hospital Modernisation Programme and a tour of our services in general.

Sir, it is difficult in just 10 minutes to do justice to a mandate as broad and as complex as HSC. I am happy to answer, or take away, any questions. 

Please this is not your only access to information our door is always open it's your health and social care service.  Thank you to those who have answered our election issue question on health which we are collating. 

Wishing you and family, merry Christmas and a healthy new year.

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