Hospital: ‘The public want the States to just get on with it’

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Deputy Hugh Raymond, who as an assistant infrastructure minister sits on the
Our Hospital Political Oversight Group, said he was ‘hugely frustrated’ by the delays that had blighted the process.

States Members are expected to vote in November to select the site for the new hospital, after a shortlist of five was trimmed down to two last Friday.

Overdale and the People’s Park, both in St Helier, are the remaining sites in contention after St Andrew’s Park, Millbrook playing field and Five Oaks were discounted.

‘I thought I would get lots of comments about the site over the weekend, but in fact people I spoke to wanted to get away from the issue of where the hospital should be built,’ he said.

‘The overwhelming feeling expressed was just to get on with it. This is such an important project for the general welfare of the Island. It’s somewhere everyone will need to go to at some stage, and politicians need to do what we were elected to do and make a decision.’

Deputy Raymond said that the reduction in the number of potential sites was a small positive step, but that a considerable amount of work was still required before the debate this autumn.

‘We need to get information about costings, so that States Members and the public know what is involved. It’s not going to be cheap, and I make no bones about that,’ he added.

Having been elected to the Assembly for the first time in June 2018, Deputy Raymond then became part of the oversight group.

‘I was not involved prior to 2018, but I realise there’s a great deal of frustration, with politicians blaming the public and the public blaming politicians.’

Deputy Raymond said he agreed with the decision to have a choice between two St Helier sites.

‘The town has a concentrated population of 35,000 to 40,000 people, spread across three parishes, and the hospital has to be close to town so that it is accessible to these people and to the main transport routes.

‘There are still people who want the hospital to be in St Saviour, but this would require a complete restructuring of the road network in that area, and that’s just not realistic.’

After almost a decade of delay on the project, Deputy Raymond said that politicians needed to develop thicker skins and reach a decision, knowing that there was no option that would please the whole Island.

‘There’s no third option to delay this again. Politicians have to put their hands in the air, make a decision and say where the hospital is going to go.’

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