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Reduced Hospital Budget 'Simply Unrealistic'

The States Assembly will vote this week on the budget size and level of borrowing for Jersey's new hospital project.

The Future Hospital Review Panel wants the budget cut from £804.5million to £550million and for borrowing to be capped at £400million, rather than £756 million.

The group argues that there isn't sufficient evidence to justify the size of the planned hospital, and the States is being asked to support a plan that will inflict harm on the island.

It's also criticised the Outline Business Case and claims politicians are being asked to make a big decision without having the full information that would be expected of such a large project.

"The opinion which has been expressed repeatedly to this panel is that £804.5 million is just too much money. That Jersey needs a new hospital is not in doubt, but it should not be at any cost. We are asking the political leaders of this project – and the States Assembly – to look again and show the budgetary restraint that Islanders are calling for."

The panel has made nine recommendations - which includes carrying out a robust option appraisal and proving value for money if the government progresses to a Full Business Case.

Senator Lyndon Farnham, the political lead for the project, says the project will grind to a halt if the budget is reduced.

He tells Channel 103 that reducing it as Scrutiny is proposing 'is simply unrealistic'.

"The current hospital project has been compiled with strong clinical engagement and the current budget includes all items of expenditure.

"It includes all expenditure incurred to date and it includes all detailed design and professional fees right through to the determination of the planning application.

"It includes the decommissioning, demolition, decant, and migration of services to Overdale and then back again to the new hospital and it includes all of the main building works - the main hospital, the energy centre, the knowledge centre, the new modern training facilities, enhanced mental health facilities, all of the car parking, all of the external works, improvements to the public realm, the creation of new gardens, courtyards, green space, all of the landscaping, all access and road improvements with sustainable transport options, all equipment and technology, all land and property acquisition, and of course all contingencies, optimism bias, and provision for inflation.

"The Scrutiny amendment seeks to reduce the budget by £250million and that is simply unrealistic.

"We cannot deliver the hospital project at Overdale on such a reduced budget and if the Scrutiny amendment were to win, then the project would have to come to a halt."

Protesters opposed to the government's hospital plans staged a rally in People's Park on Saturday lunchtime (2 October).

John Baker from the Jersey Action Group, nearby resident Tamara van Meggelen, and GP Dr. Nigel Minihane all gave speeches in support of the Scrutiny amendment.

A second protest is taking place in the Royal Square today from 12:30pm (4 October).

Mr. Baker says he's concerned at the 'runaway costs and the lack of plans and details'.

"To go from £600million to £800million for the new hospital in a year is just crazy.

"As a member of the parish roads committee, I'm quite angry that we still haven't seen details for the road, for what we call the super highway.

"We have seen this recent publication of a list of 40 clinicians that are supporting Overdale, but they're supporting it without knowing the actual plans and without knowing what is going to be in the hospital and I know for certain that 8 of those 40 are actually not even in the island anymore.

"We're also concerned about the rising cost of care in the community and the declining healthcare services."

The height and size of the proposed hospital have been reduced in new designs unveiled last month.

Reform Jersey has announced that it will vote in favour of the reduced budget.

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