President’s Statement July 2019

Sir, 

The Committee has achieved major milestones in moving the Partnership of Purpose forward since my last statement, receiving the green light from the Assembly to proceed with the introduction of a proportionate regulatory framework for health and care and a commitment to invest in the infrastructure of the PEH.

Together with the Reform of Health Care Funding, these projects are crucial enablers which help us to lay the foundation for further transformation and the new model of care.

Work is ongoing to deliver a new model of primary care focused on greater equity of access and enhanced partnership working across the health and care system. 

The Review of Drugs and Treatments, which we aim to publish by the end of this month, provides the evidence-base we were seeking to recommend changes in drug funding policy and the Committee is working with ESS and P&R to ensure that we have a workable proposal to bring to the Assembly in the autumn.  

In the recent debate on the Future Guernsey Plan, Members supported our aim to address the identified gaps in mental health services and to place a greater focus on early intervention and prevention.  I am delighted that as part of this commitment, HSC’s application to become a signatory to the Prevention Concordat Programme for Better Mental Health has been accepted.  This is a significant achievement and reflects the huge amount of effort that has been carried out to map our services and to work with our community partners to promote good mental health   .

In children’s services, levels of early help have increased, those on the child protection register for over 2 years have fallen significantly and the re-registration rate within two years also remains low.  Generally, long term trends also indicate a decline in looked after children. In addition, joint working with our counterparts in Jersey has resulted in the appointment of the first Pan-Island Independent Chair of the Islands Safeguarding Children Partnership and we continue to work with Jersey in other areas.

There has also been some fantastic partnership working with the Guernsey Housing Association.  New key worker accommodation at Beauville, right next to the PEH was opened last week, which, for the first time offers family accommodation.  The Autism Hub is also due for completion at the end of the summer.  Service users and their relatives have been visiting the site over recent weeks and transition planning has begun.

The first ever Joint Strategic Needs Assessment provides us with a wealth of information on the specific needs of the over 50s identifying a number of ‘urgent’ and ‘needed’ projects in Guernsey and Alderney to improve the wellbeing of the community. An excellent piece of work by our Public Health Team.

At a more operational level, in my last statement I set out the problems with respect to orthopaedic Inpatient Waiting times and plans to reduce the backlog. Since then we have made good progress through a combination of on and off-Island initiatives.

The introduction of periodic Saturday operating lists, off-island operations through Peterborough NHS Trust, Spire Hospital Southampton, and Jersey has helped to reduce the waiting list even though we are seeing significantly increasing demand. 

We expect added momentum over the coming months with an extra anaesthetist now on-island and additional contracts with other off-island providers. A ‘short notice’ list is also being trialled where the longest waiting patients are being offered the opportunity to prepare for surgery should a last minute slot become available. We also have contractual service redesigns for orthopaedic surgery and theatre management planned for later this year.

However, living longer inevitably means more procedures and whilst the PEH Modernisation Programme will increase capacity in the longer term, we also need look at prevention and how we can do things differently. With regard to the latter, a review is currently active and we expect a report in the next few weeks.

The ageing demographic, as shown by orthopaedics; a growing demand for increasingly specialist services, together with general developments in modern healthcare are having a very real impact on the bottom line.  

We know pressures arising from the ageing demographic result in an additional expenditure of £1million. Now none of the above is new. 

However, ironically a major reason why our budget is under very real pressure this year is because of our own success. For the first time in many many years we have been successful in stabilising the permanent staffing within acute services. 

At the end of June 2018 there were 83 Registered Nurse vacancies within acute services and we are expecting a reduction to just 29 by this September as a result of an excellent recruitment drive.  A huge thank you goes to all those involved across the States who have made it happen

I’m sure members will agree this is fantastic news. However, it perversely presents us with new budgetary challenges. The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, some of those staff are super-numerary and  their costs need to be covered for the first few months and secondly, a  vacancy factor, basically a percentage cut in pay budget,  is in place on the basis that we have never been able to fully recruit before.  Clearly, as we are now in position where this is no longer the case, we need to re-think the approach in the budget setting process for 2020.  

Of course, whilst we have made such a difference in recruitment, retention is still a considerable concern. That is why the Committee would like to see resolution to the nurses pay dispute and an agreed plan of action in terms of the development of a future framework that takes account of equal pay for work of equal value, as soon as possible. On that front, I would like to thank the nurses, on behalf of the Committee,for the truly professional approach they have taken in their campaign. 

Whichever way we look at it, the funding gap identified by KPMG is beginning to be felt, and even with all the transformation initiatives we propose, it is expected to reach £20m in the next 8 years.

HSC has worked tirelessly to manage its budget well, with millions of pounds of real savings made to the bottom line without any service cuts.  In fact, to the contrary, as we have re-invested savings into prevention and early intervention measures.

This has included the introduction of free under 21’s contraception, which has exceeded all expectations in reducing unintended teenage pregnancies, free cervical cancer screening, HPV vaccinations for boys and FH genetic cholesterol testing which is to be launched shortly. These have all happened through partnership working which we want to develop more over the next few months. 

However, we are rapidly coming to a point where services may well need to be cut unless extra funding can be provided in line with KPMG’s predictions. 

So, Sir, it has been a busy six months and the rest of this year promises to be equally so with the Capacity Law being finalised, engagement on proposed changes to the Children’s Law and publication of our proposed future model of Primary Care to name but three. However, the debate at budget time will be crucial. Sticking to our usual approach, when it comes to raising revenue and allocating it, won’t work.  We need to think differently about the whole financial picture of the States, if we want to keep pace with the health and care needs of an ageing population, as well as working on prevention for future generations.  All the amazing work to lay the foundations for a better model of care could be meaningless unless the whole of this States is prepared to confront the funding challenges that lie ahead.



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Email: heidi@heidisoulsby.com