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Minister responds to Verita progress update

31 January 2011

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Anne Pryke, has made the following statement regarding the Verita Progress Review report:

"This follow-up report was undertaken by Verita in relation to their independent investigation into the death of Staff Nurse Elizabeth Rourke, which was published in February last year.

"Elizabeth died tragically in 2006 during an operation undertaken at the hospital. Her death was a source of great sorrow to her family, friends and colleagues and resulted in a police investigation and manslaughter trial. 

"In addition, my predecessor, the Health and Social Service Minister, Senator Perchard, commissioned Verita to undertake a wholly independent investigation into the circumstances that led to her death - including a detailed examination of her care and treatment.

"That investigation identified 30 recommendations, 11 of which were considered urgent, and it is these which are examined in detail in this Progress Review.

"Verita returned to Jersey in Autumn 2010 to monitor the extent of progress the hospital had made on implementing their recommendations. They have now completed that task. 

"I am pleased to report that Verita have confirmed that all 30 recommendations have been adopted, and that most have been fully implemented. For those which have not been completed, significant progress has been made. 

"Verita also report that some recommendations are being delivered beyond initial expectations for example, the systems set up to publish and manage staff rotas. Verita are impressed by the progress they have seen.

"They acknowledge that none of the recommendations could be implemented quickly, and that all required significant work and on-going commitment - particularly those that related to cultural or behavioural change.

"Verita make it clear that some of the changes required had already been identified and driven forward prior to their initial investigation. Whilst there is no doubt that their 2010 recommendations provided valuable added impetus, much was already underway, thanks to the professionalism and dedication of our staff. Patient safety at the hospital is always our prime concern and priority, and this report demonstrates that we have made significant progress.

"The Verita Progress Review report recognises that the smooth running of the hospital has been greatly assisted by the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer, the appointment of a managing director for the hospital, and the re-organisation and strengthening of management structures. This includes the increased involvement of clinicians in corporate management achieved, in part, through the appointment of 2 consultants to the role of Medical Director. Further additional work is outlined in the Management and Organisational Improvement Plan published by the department in December 2010.

"Verita acknowledge the support that staff have given to the delivery of their recommendations, including progress towards a culture of openness, as opposed to a culture of blame. They note improvements in staff inductions and appraisals and in the policies and procedures used in the hospital.

"In addition, regular monitoring of the use of locums was introduced in early 2010 in order to provide senior managers with up-to-date data relating to the deployment of locums in the hospital. This information enables managers to easily monitor a locum’s grade, speciality and role – and to manage any associated risk.

"Verita note particular improvements in our day surgery unit and theatres and new measures to manage incidents of major bleeding. In addition, there is a commitment to the use of a World Health Organisation checklist, following a successful pilot of it in theatres at the hospital last year.

"Finally, Verita highlight improvements to the management of staff and steps taken to improve joint working with external stakeholders such as the Police and the Law Officers Department.

"I think it is important that I acknowledge that the work to keep up the high standard of the care we offer not just in the hospital, but across Health and Social Services is ongoing, and this never stops. It goes above and beyond this Progress Review. Recently, you will be aware that a further commitment to the future work of the organisation has been made in the shape of the published Management and Organisational Improvement Plan, for the whole Health and Social Services.

"However, returning to the Progress Review published tomorrow, I am confident that all the staff involved continue to own and engage with the recommendations, building on the work which began before Verita’s return visit, and which continues now.

"Verita recognise that substantial progress has been made, and, like me, they know that this is due to the dedication and commitment of the staff who work in the hospital. I am extremely proud of all they have achieved and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the continued commitment you give to the Island.

"Finally, in addition to acknowledging the staff who work so hard for this Island, it is also essential that we remember Elizabeth  – our colleague and friend."

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