Dozens of Islanders, including a large number of medical professionals, attended the meeting at St Paul’s Centre on Tuesday evening. Independent planning inspector Philip Staddon opened his inquiry into resubmitted plans to build the future hospital at its current location earlier this week.
Former Environment Minister Steve Luce rejected previous plans for building on the current site in January, on the recommendation of Mr Staddon.
At the hearing, the majority of attendees commended the work of the Future Hospital team, led by Bernard Place, in putting together a good design for the new facility but said they firmly believed that another site needed to be found and any political barriers to do so need to be overcome.
Dr Ajay Kumar said that staff morale had already been damaged by plans to build on the current site, the cramped area would restrict future development of the hospital and Jersey could struggle to attract high-quality medical staff if they have to work in a ‘building site’.
Former engineer Christopher McCarthy raised concerns about the flood risk of the site and pointed out that official UK guidance says a hospital should not be built in a high-risk flood zone like Gloucester Street.
‘This hospital is going to flood. It needs an evacuation plan. What are you going to do with people on life support? It says in black and white do not build a new hospital in a zone 3 flood area,’ he said.
Mr Staddon said that he was due to attend a meeting to consider the flood-risk issues on Wednesday afternoon.
Miklos Kassai, a surgeon at the hospital, said that building on the current site would cause disruption for patients and that he believed staff had not been properly consulted.
Dr John McInerney, who works in the Emergency Department, spoke in favour of building on the current site on the grounds that the area is not ideal but no other viable location is available.
But David Crocker, a retired engineer, called for the Island’s politicians to find an alternative location claiming that a quicker and cheaper build at a different, open site would be the best option. He was backed by a large section of the audience.
It is estimated that the build time at the current site would be at least eight years.
A number of attendees at the hearing claimed that hospital staff have been ‘gagged’ and made unable to express their views about the site of the future hospital. This was denied by several officials at the inquiry, however.
An official petition calling for hospital staff to be balloted on whether the new facility should be built on the current site has now been signed by more than 1,200 people.
The meeting was attended by Health Minister Richard Renouf.