THERE is a ‘significant’ amount of work to do to engage healthcare workers on revised hospital plans, the head of a Scrutiny panel has said.
Future Hospital Review Panel chair Deputy Sam Mézec made the comments after Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet recently revealed that only 59 healthcare employees – 2% of almost 2,500 staff – attended a series of 19 drop-in workshops held earlier this month to gather feedback on the new Health Care Facilities Plan. Neither ministers nor senior officers attended any of the workshops.
At a recent hearing of the panel, Health Minister Karen Wilson said she would have wished for the workshops ‘to be much more attended’, adding: ‘I don’t think it is representative. We need to review why that is the case and how we can start to build the engagement with staff again.’
She further said that staff were ‘tired’ and ‘concerned’ that they were spending time on a second round of consultations.
Deputy Wilson said: ‘We have to find a different way to be able to engage them if those attendance figures have not produced the kind of engagement that we need.’
Part of the sessions involved seeking feedback on how staff wished to be consulted in future.
Deputy Wilson concluded that ‘we need to step up communications to make sure that we can codify [feedback] and build it into the system of consultation and engagement we have set up already. We need to have a look at what we can do to facilitate as much engagement as possible’.
Following the hearing, Deputy Mézec said: ‘There is clearly a significant amount of work still to do to ensure the necessary engagement with healthcare staff to enable the overall long-term success of the New Healthcare Facilities Programme and it is concerning that so few have provided their comments and feedback to date. The panel will continue to monitor the government’s engagement with staff, stakeholders and the public in relation to the plans for the facilities and for each of the sites at which they are likely to be located.’
During the panel hearing, Jessica Hardwick, acting project director for the ongoing hospital project, said: ‘We will learn from the feedback and try to do it in a different way.’
Alternative methods include one-to-one sessions and developing ways to track trends and themes of staff conversations.
A video of the new multi-site plans has now been uploaded to the healthcare staff intranet, and the government is encouraging staff to provide feedback by phone or online questionnaire, which will be included in the functional brief in future.
The new proposal replaces the previous single-site option, with possible locations at Overdale, Kensington Place, the Health and Wellbeing Centre at Les Quennevais and Rosewood House and Clinique Pinel in St Saviour.
Deputy Lyndon Farnham, who headed the Our Hospital project as a minister in the previous government, has said that the new government’s decision to scrap the single-site plans, ‘ignoring’ previous consultation advice, has left healthcare workers feeling ‘apathetic’ and ‘disenfranchised.’
He added: ‘They don’t have the appetite to go through it all again. The government can’t possibly take guidance from a small number like that. If we want to get the majority of the healthcare professionals engaged again, the government needs to think seriously about going back to the previous single-site plans.
‘The staff have lost confidence in the project, and they are keen to get on with the important work in the right conditions. It’s for the new government to win back the confidence of the healthcare staff, which will be an uphill struggle and a big challenge.’
Deputy Farnham further questioned how the government goes about seeking engagement.
He said: ‘With the previous consultations, there were a lot of structured talks, and it was clinically directed by senior medical staff. Drop-in workshops are always hit and miss. There are lots of resources put in to set them up and no guarantee of people showing up. That won’t help with the apathy.’
A healthcare worker who spoke to the JEP said that she had no intention of attending, because no notice was taken of staff input at previous workshops.
None of her colleagues went either, and she said: ‘It’s irrelevant where the various establishments of the new hospital are situated in the big scheme of things.
‘It’s the culture that has to change. The walls will have to grow ears.’
In January, a report on deployment of staff resources in Health and Community Services by Comptroller and Auditor General Lynn Pamment made recommendations including the need for ‘improved staff engagement’, and the government is currently advertising to hire a full-time communications manager to focus on staff engagement.