The Committee for Health & Social Care has rejected the latest request to publish an independent report and recommendations about protecting vulnerable children and their families.
Consultants were commissioned to review safeguarding practices last year following multiple complaints from local families.
At this morning's States' meeting, Deputy Gavin St. Pier asked the following Rule 11 question of Deputy Al Brouard, the President of the Committee for Health & Social Care: "Will the Committee now immediately publish in full both the report and recommendations?"
In reply, Deputy Brouard said: "No, but the Committee will be pleased to review this in 2023."
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard told the States that his Committee was still not ready to publish a key report on safeguarding but did not rule out publication next year.
Deputy St. Pier then asked Deputy Brouard what might change the Committee's mind and lead to it publishing the report and recommendations next year.
In reply, Deputy Brouard said: "Multi-faceted. Bits of information need to come together. We have many stakeholders involved in this particular issue. We have issues with regard to our professional staff - we are making sure the team is up in place and there is ongoing dialogue. We want to make sure that all these things are in place and embedded so we've got a fuller understanding before we go to the next stage."
Deputy St. Pier told the States' Assembly that the author of the report and the families concerned "have consented to the publication of the report and the independent safeguarding professionals have recommended its publication". He then asked: "What are the reasons for the Committee declining or refusing to publish?"
In reply, Deputy Brouard said: "We appreciate that there are some members who wish to have the report in the public domain, but fortunately we have a wider mandate of due care and consideration. There are many stakeholders besides these particular individuals.
"We need to look at it holistically and in the round to make sure that we have a really good safeguarding service and we do not disadvantage any families, especially children in this particular instance."
Pictured: The external report into the island's safeguarding practices was commissioned following similar concerns raised by four families.
The consultants' report was provided to the Committee in September 2021. Recommendations were provided in November 2021.
Deputy St. Pier wrote to the Committee in May 2022 asking for the report and recommendations to be published, but he was rebuffed.
Deputy St. Pier told Express that the four families whose cases triggered the report "have waited very patiently for over a year for its recommendations to be actioned".
The families met members of the Committee and the Head of the Public Service, Mark de Garis, one month ago today.
"This was an emotionally challenging and traumatic experience for the families," said Deputy St. Pier. "I'm sure it was also a difficult and shocking reality check for [the Committee's] leadership.
"Whilst it was a positive start, definitive action is now needed. If those tasked with implementing the recommendations are serious about their commitment to delivering change, it is an essential first step that the report and recommendations are now published in full. The families and report's author clearly stated they have no objection to publication."
Pictured: Deputy Marc Leadbeater used a supplementary question in the States to help explain his Committee's position on repeated requests to publish the report.
Deputy Marc Leadbeater, who is a member of the Committee for Health & Social Care, also asked his Committee President a supplementary question in the States this morning.
He said: "Would the President agree with me that, in agreeing to review the decision in 2023, the Committee is mindful of the ongoing processes involving the report, and in the absence of permissions from all of those who may be identified by its publication the Committee feels it would be inappropriate to publish at this stage, but it has agreed to publish the action plan which is being developed in association with the relevant professionals and families, who the Committee is meeting again on Friday?"
In reply, Deputy Brouard said: "I completely concur with what [Deputy Leadbeater] just said - absolutely.
"We've got work to do and we need to get on with it. It doesn't necessarily always help to do it in a goldfish bowl. It is sometimes better to do these things discreetly and in private with the professionals."
Pictured: Deputy Gavin St. Pier first asked questions in the States months ago and is likely to revisit the issue in 2023.
Deputy St. Pier declared a special or direct interest in the subject of his questions before asking them in the States this morning.
In April, he used parliamentary privilege in the States' Assembly to share his own family’s experiences with the health service. He said that raising concerns with the service had "triggered a bizarre and Kafkaesque safeguarding investigation, which our GP described at the time as the weaponisation of the safeguarding system against us". He said that his family had later received an "unequivocal apology" from the healthcare provider concerned.
Deputy St. Pier told the States that those experiences had led to him working with three families "who have profoundly sick children with complex conditions and needs, who had either sought second opinions or complained about local clinical care, and had found themselves in exactly the same Kafkaesque nightmare of having to deal with safeguarding enquiries while also caring for their sick children".
The concerns raised by the families led to an investigation into the practices and behaviour of a doctor working in the Bailiwick. The conclusion of that investigation was that no substantive concern was upheld against the doctor.
Deputy St. Pier also told the States at that time that the investigator found "that there was potential bias towards families whose children had complex conditions and parents who were inclined to seek second opinions".
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