31 October 2018
The Department for Health and Community Services (HCS) has set about strengthening its governance arrangements following criticism in a recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The department’s formal response, detailing actions on 22 separate recommendations, has been sent to the Public Accounts Committee and is being published today.
Anthony McKeever, interim Director General for HCS, commented: “The C&AG identified various concerns about the way that the old Health and Social Services Department was run. These criticisms reflected governance structures in place as at May 2018. Since then, a new senior leadership team has been put in place and firm and swift action has been taken to correct matters."
He added: “The criticisms contained in the C&AG report do not relate to the dedicated staff working around the hospital or in community settings. The structures and processes that were found to be inadequate related mainly to ‘back office’ functions and relationships between departments. In future, we aim to ensure these organisational structures and processes reflect the high standards clinical professionals expect of themselves."
The department’s response to the C&AG’s report sets out fundamental changes that are already underway. In order to address the concerns raised by the C&AG, a new board and committee structure is being established to provide greater transparency and accountability for HCS’ services.
The new board will be chaired by the Minister for Health and Community Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, and will meet in public quarterly. Board membership will include his assistant ministers as well as the Director General, Group Managing Director, Jersey’s Chief Nurse and Group Medical Director. Subject to final consultations that need to be completed, the board’s first meeting should be held early next year.
To support the rollout of the new arrangements, HCS will develop a governance handbook for staff to help ensure that good governance becomes embedded into the department’s culture. The handbook will set out what good governance means for HCS, the role of staff in achieving it and how decisions should be made across the organisation.
HCS’s response to the C&AG’s report outlines the department’s approach to future governance arrangements, setting out that HCS will:
- provide for clear leadership and accountability with more authority and decision-making at the front line
- ensure a more efficient, effective use of limited resources while maintaining a strong focus on quality and safety
- create a more agile organisation by ensuring staff can perform effectively in clearly defined roles
- increase the focus on service objectives and outcomes to achieve timely, well-governed services and service transformation in line with the department’s strategic plans
- build a strong and healthy culture that encourages challenge and embraces learning
The Director General noted: “The improvements required will take years, not months, to accomplish, and we acknowledge that progress made and the results being achieved will need to be regularly monitored. In health and social care, getting the right results - for individuals and for taxpayers - is important at every level. We want governance to become part of normal business at every level in HCS."
Speaking about the different approach outlined by his department’s response, Deputy Renouf said: “We want islanders to know that their health and social care services are being led properly, and that leadership and decision making is simple, transparent and well structured. I am grateful to the C&AG for pinpointing the changes required. My colleagues and I are determined to correct the organisation’s previous shortcomings and to make a fresh start.
“HCS is committed to creating a health-promoting, safe and effective service for all islanders. So we must ensure that the department is well-organised and remains resilient into the future."
Health and Community Services Response to Comptroller and Auditor General's Governance Report