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Role Of STAC In Advising On Covid-19 Decisions 'Not Consistent'

Lynn Pamment says while STAC were heavily involved in advising on reopening the island last summer, it wasn't the same when restrictions were imposed over Christmas.

The role of STAC in advising on key Covid-19 related decisions has not been consistent, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Lynn Pamment has published a report that focuses on how the healthcare response to the pandemic was managed in Jersey.

The Comptroller says there was no formal record-keeping in the early stages of the crisis on how public health advice given to Ministers was agreed upon - with little evidence on why specific advice was given and other advice was rejected.

STAC first met on 28 April, three months after the need for the committee was identified.

Ms. Pamment says there was a better audit trail from late April to early June, but the advice was not always comprehensive.

She's criticised a lack of consistency in advising on key decisions - with STAC heavily involved in advising on reopening the island and introducing border controls in May and June last year, but not asked to give advice on the final set of restrictions imposed over Christmas.

It was also revealed that elderly hospital patients were sent to a nursing home in March last year without being tested for Covid-19, with staff not encouraged to wear PPE - even though it was available to them.

They subsequently had to self-isolate.

The Comptroller and Auditor General says decisions on the testing of patients and PPE guidance were not consistently supported by documented risk assessments.

Ms. Pamment also says it was also not clear where the extra staff to support patients in the Nightingale Hospital would come from. The temporary facility did not get used in the end and will be demolished.

"Jersey has not experienced the significant rates of COVID-19 infections that other countries have. As of 31 December 2020, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jersey was 2,760 and the total number of COVID-19 deaths was 44, which represents 1.6% of all confirmed cases. The public health advice given has been effective when assessed against a strategy of least overall harm.

"A full reflective and evaluative ‘lessons learned’ exercise on the COVID-19 healthcare response should be undertaken across the whole health and care system on the Island. This should include Government and third-party organisations. In addition, the proposed expansion of the public health function as part of the Jersey Care Model should be reviewed to ensure that the function is properly equipped to address future health protection emergencies."

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