I made the following speech during debate on the Revive and Thrive Recovery Plan debated in July 2020.
Sir, It is only because of the sacrifices made by Islanders over the last few months that we are now able to focus on recovery. And Do it. Not just talk about it.
This is a position hard fought for and easily lost and something we need to remember as we consider how and when we open the borders. You only have to listen to and see the faces of those business people in Leicester this week to see the real effect of re-imposing lockdown restrictions has on communities. We don’t want, and can least afford, Revive and Thrive to have a relapse. A balance is required of course and a risk based approach, something we have adopted over the last few months and something that will hold us in good stead for the future.
I believe this document is a good start, that it provides a framework we need for the coming months and years. Deputy Inder says there isn’t much to it. Well quite honestly, this was effectively written in a month. If he wanted War and Peace it wouldn’t have got here this side of the election.
Deputy Green says there isn’t enough information in it. I would actually say, given the situation we are in, this is more than enough. Now is not the time to write 200 page documents along the lines of the Future Guernsey Plan. Or massive great strategic documents that take over 2 years to write, then get debated in the States and then most of which never are completed because the money isn’t there. SLAWS being a classic example.
Now is the time for getting things done. Thinking Differently, Working Differently.
So many here have said how we need action. No one so far has said what form that action should take, or rather, how we go about it. It’s simple to say, ‘we need action’ but another to determine what and possible more importantly, how.
Yes processes need reviewing and there are clear areas where these can be improved, the capital prioritisation process being the most obvious. It means taking risks but then it requires this Assembly and the next to accept that and not for government to be put through the ringer where the risks don’t pay off. The reason why we are so stuck up in red tape is because of a zero risk approach developed over time and it is funny how those most likely to criticise inaction are the same ones who criticise when things don’t go to plan.
I am concerned that time will be wasted developing great tomes that are described as action plans. Personally, I think action should be divided between what we need to do in the next 3m, 6m, 12m and 2 years. The action plans should be integrated, short and to the point – on one side of A4 and they should guide us through the first half of next term. We haven’t got time for pages and pages of stuff. Deputy Green says there isn’t much detail in here, but on the other hand says we want action. Well you really can’t have both. Deputy Laurie Queripel talks about bringing a policy letter to the States setting out priorities. Well that sounds great in theory but really what will that mean in practice. It will take months to put together a huge great list of what government is doing, more months for Committees and then P&R to decide what on that list is prioritised, then to write a policy letter, then to wait a couple of months for 100 amendments to be developed and then a debate and who’s to say there won’t be a sursis instructing P&R to go away and do it differently.
I say it again – we must think differently and work differently. Frankly I think our system of government will be the biggest impediment to revive and thrive. That it matters less what we say what we are going to do, than how States Members approach it.
Anyhow, we don’t need a huge action plan for Health and Care anyway. We have already designed the new model of health and care – the Partnership of Purpose. That is what is referenced on page 19.
The holistic sustainable health and care system, centering services around the needs of islanders that are accessible and affordable. And I answer to Deputy Laurie Queripel, the Committee has already agreed the short term priorities and narrowed down the focus of transformation over the coming months. These include EPR because data will be a key aspect of transformation, as well as supporting health tech in its widest sense, as well as hospital modernisation and restructuring of primary care. Just to respond to Deputy Leadbeater, as he may be aware, the Committee for Health & Social Care prioritised the development of a mental health centre that he describes as a service development. As there is now a freeze on such expenditure I can’t say when that will take place, but for the reasons he has put forward it is something the Committee would wish to see brought forward.
There will be considerable challenges to come, not least of which will be bringing waiting times down that have grown due to the necessary restriction of services through lockdown, although we are in a far better place than many other jurisdictions because we have been able to get out of lockdown as quickly as we have, as well as the fact services did continue where possible, including outpatients. But it will be a challenge as we are unlikely to be able to rely on using UK health services given the far worse situation over there. The NHS has already made it clear it will need to work with independent, or private providers, to improve their position.
However, the most important aspect of all this is improving population health outcomes through addressing the wider determinants of health. That is the last bullet point on page 19 but for me it should be front of page 1. That is the ultimate outcome we should all be seeking but will become increasingly difficult if levels of unemployment rise and austerity measures are brought in. It is why we can’t just focus on the economy without considering the environment, health and care. If we don’t we could see rising inequality in a community not less. That is why green initiatives are important – one being as I mentioned during the energy policy debate, potential grants for home insulation.
Sir, I could go on, but I think this debate has gone on long enough. The time really is for action and not words and the longer we sit around here the less time we have to actually make things happen.
So, I do support the Revive and Thrive Strategy. It sets the right balance, but whether it is successful will very much depend on the mind sets of States Members. What we will need is an end to the divisiveness, and the beginning of a can do attitude of members, supported by officers, working together in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect for the benefit of the community.