On Tuesday 13 June, I will be bringing a proposition to establish an independently chaired Advisory Board for Health and Community Services (HCS). In this blog, I want to explain why the Board is needed; how it will help ensure the Department’s success in delivering well governed, person-centred services and how I as Minister propose to provide the assurance to you as Islanders on the quality, safety, accessibility, and cost effectiveness of services provided by HCS.
Over the years, Jersey has received evidence through a myriad of reports and reviews into HCS services. Reviews of our maternity and mental health services, the 2022 review into clinical governance arrangements, reviews by the Comptroller & Auditor General, and now the Royal College of Physicians review of rheumatology services.
I know that staff come to work every day to do their best – whether they are a clinician, manager, or support worker – but they can only do so if the systems and quality of leadership enable them to achieve.
Health care is an inherently complex business and I know, from years of direct experience working as a nurse, complexity is best addressed by having systems in place to ensure that the quality, safety and effectiveness of what clinicians do every day leads to good health outcomes for patients and maintenance of high standards.
The oversight of this is critical and that is why I propose the establishment of the Health and Community Services Advisory Board (the “Board”) to work for patients on this basis by ensuring the healthcare system is governed well.
The Board, which includes an independent Chair and up to five independent non-executive Directors (“NEDs”), will advise me on what will serve patients well.
Its purpose is to:
Advice: to provide advice and make recommendations to me on the priorities for change and improvement
Assure: to assure me, the Assembly and public as to the delivery of well-governed, safe, high-quality, cost-effective and person-centred services by the Department
Alert: to be alert to risk, ensuring that robust systems are in place for identifying and managing risks, including clinical, safeguarding, financial and corporate risks
The Board has no statutory powers as these remain with Ministers and the States Assembly.
In the context of a £242m service, the Board will cost £206,000 per year. Rather than the Chief Officer alone, the experience of the NEDs will bring much needed skills and expertise to provide the oversight of complex, high-risk services; they will understand the questions to ask; recognise what good looks like and be trusted to provide credible advice and support to me as Minister.
Poor clinical governance leads to failures that are costly, not only to the individual but to the taxpayer. For example, the frequency with which we have had to rely on expensive external reviews to identify what went wrong; the lost working hours due to stress in the workplace; and the cost of responding to complaints. In all of these areas the Board will be in a position to advise me how we can improve.
I will still be accountable to the Council of Ministers, the Assembly, and the public, for the policy and strategy of health and care services in Jersey, as I am today.
The Chief Officer will continue to remain accountable to the Government’s Chief Executive for the management of the Department and its financial resources, and accountable to me for the delivery of my policy direction.
As Minister for Health and Social Services, my priority is to restore trust and confidence in our healthcare system – I recognise that relying on any one person alone to provide direction and to challenge the Department is creating a potential single point of failure. The proposed Board is needed to deliver real change, strengthen oversight and accountability, and advise me on what is required to achieve better outcomes for patients.
We all know that real change is needed.