Cardiologist Andrew Mitchell said he was ‘frustrated’ because plans to open an independent heart unit – which would have been operational in 2015 – were halted when the States decided to build the new hospital, incorporating his department instead.
He said his department and others in the Hospital had spent many clinical hours drawing up how their future units could look, plans which now may not be used as the States could reverse the decision to build on the current site.
His comments come after the majority of a board tasked by Chief Minister John Le Fondré to provide assurance over the States Assembly’s decision to build the new facility on the current site, or to raise concerns in relation to the evidence that led to the decision, said that the Waterfront and Overdale sites should be put back to the States.
Senator Le Fondré has previously said that the final approval for the project would be put before the new Assembly. Dr Mitchell said a ‘rapid decision’ needed to be made.
‘Bearing in mind we have been having these conversations for ten years we still don’t know the timeline
of the future hospital,’ he said.
‘At least having the timeline, I think, will help [to recruit] if people know that there is a state-of-the-art hospital being built. The worst decision is no decision.’
Dr Mitchell said there would be ‘upset’ among Health workers if the future hospital faced further delays as a result of the States deciding it should be built elsewhere.
He added that previous decisions had led to setbacks in the scheme.
‘Personally, I don’t think this is the best place to build a hospital,’ he said. ‘I think if they had made the right decision two years ago we would be two years ahead.
‘Taking the People’s Park out of the equation was anti-democratic. It was supposed to be an Islandwide consultation. It was taken out of discussion before anyone was consulted on it. That was the wrong decision.
‘My own personal view is to build it on the Waterfront. Take away the building that houses the cinema and the restaurants and swimming pool and build an outstanding building there. We would have the ability to put an ambulance station that would have access to the east, west and north. Build a community recreation park at Fort Regent, with a cinema and swimming pool.’
If the States vote against building the new hospital on the current site, it has been said that it could take ten years before a new facility is operational.
However, Dr Mitchell said that was something he did not ‘understand’.
‘We have done a lot of the work already,’ he said. ‘Building on somewhere that is relatively clean and open is going to be faster. A new planning application would need to be put in, but that should not delay it for too long.’
Dr Mitchell, who hopes that a new cardiology research unit will open in Jersey next year, said it was ‘frustrating’ that plans he and his team had drawn up in 2012 to build a standalone Jersey Heart Unit at Overdale had not been able to progress.
‘Under the plans, the unit would have been half funded by the States and half by charity,’ he said. ‘If the plans had progressed the team would have been within its new base in March 2015.
‘However, those plans were scrapped after the States announced it was building a new hospital – one which would include the Jersey Heart Team.’