Healthcare and Wellbeing
- Expand the 'Health Access Scheme' to deliver cheaper GP visits for more Islanders. Work towards eventually abolishing the fee entirely for everyone.
- Implement an 'Ethical Care Charter' to improve working conditions for carers to improve recruitment and retention.
- Exercise restraint and provide appropriate political oversight to manage the budget for the new hospital more efficiently
- Implement the recommendations from the Scrutiny Review of Jersey's mental health services
- Establish a 'Substance Use Strategy' which focuses on harm reduction and education.
Reform Jersey is committed to the principle of a health service which provides timely and high-quality care, and is free at the point of need for all.
Sadly, parts of the health service are currently failing to meet the standards we expect in a wealthy society. Many of the facilities are dated and costing millions to maintain. Staff morale is low, and the service is struggling with retention of healthcare professionals. Waiting lists are too long, leading to many people feeling that paying for private healthcare is their only option, whilst those who cannot afford to do so have to suffer for months or years.
The ‘Jersey Care Model’ rightly focuses on providing care at home where people feel most comfortable and reducing dependence on the hospital services when a hospital stay could be avoided. However, there are great concerns on how this will be delivered. We are already seeing worrying signs that user-pays fees for certain services may increase, and that greater pressure will be put on charities without adequate support provided to them. Reform Jersey will staunchly oppose any attempt to increase user-pays fees. Where services are provided by charities or third parties on behalf of the government, we will work closely with them to ensure they are well co-ordinated and properly funded. We will ensure that hospital services are available to those who need them, including in-patient care where clinically appropriate and that services are adequately funded and resourced to avoid pressure on clinicians to discharge patients prematurely because of capacity constraints. Reform Jersey believes that access to primary healthcare must be made cheaper for the patient, to proactively support the health needs and wellbeing of Islanders. When people seek health advice or treatment in the earlier stages of an illness, it improves their chances of recovery and ultimately costs the service less. We pledge to expand the ‘Health Access Scheme’ to deliver cheaper access to GP appointments for those with long-term health conditions. We will also bring forward plans to abolish the fee entirely for all Islanders in this term of office.
We must make our health service an attractive workplace for dedicated and qualified staff. This must include being more realistic about the pay and conditions of healthcare staff if we want to retain them and improve morale. We will seek the implementation of an ‘Ethical Care Charter’ to ensure care workers have appropriate working conditions which enable them to carry out their roles safely, without the unacceptable levels of pressure that some face because of their workload.
Jersey cannot afford to waste more time and money on the new hospital project. Reform Jersey has consistently argued for a town site for the hospital and had advocated using the Waterfront and Esplanade areas, before they were earmarked for offices instead. We do not regard the Overdale site as being ideal. But rather than committing to spend tens of millions of pounds on consultants to restart the new hospital project for the third time (as some are proposing), we will instead focus on delivering healthcare services, getting waiting lists down and supporting our healthcare professionals. We believe that with restraint and proper political oversight, the capital expenditure for the new hospital can be managed more efficiently.
Our mental health services are also under severe pressure and waiting lists for mental health support services such as Jersey Talking Therapies must be reduced. In-patient and outpatient adult mental health facilities are outdated and not fit for purpose. The Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel recently produced a report on Jersey’s mental health services which provides an excellent set of recommendations to deliver some of the changes which are desperately needed. We will take those recommendations forward and ensure that they are included in the next Government Plan as an urgent priority.
Lastly, we will seek to establish a progressive ‘Substance Use Strategy’ focused on the principle of harm reduction and ensuring the provision of information and education on drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and appropriate health care for those with substance use problems. We will support the decriminalisation of cannabis as part of a wider harm reduction strategy, as there is a growing body of evidence that criminalisation is counterproductive and more costly in the long run.