The States’ Assembly rejected an attempt yesterday to open up debate into what one deputy referred to as “significant systemic and cultural issues of concern” about a part of the Bailiwick’s health service.
Deputy Gavin St Pier asked the States to allow debate on what he called “a brief, formal, technocratic, rather dry and anodyne annual report” about the regulation and revalidation of doctors.
He claimed the report “masks the presence of failings which I now know, sadly from personal experience, have existed since at least 2015”.
But the report was listed on the order paper to be tabled without discussion and Deputy St Pier’s motion to debate it was defeated by 10 votes to 28 with one abstention.
This meant that Deputy St Pier, pictured top, was largely unable to raise his concerns about the health service, although he touched on them while speaking on his unsuccessful motion to debate the report.
Pictured: The report which Deputy Gavin St Pier tried unsuccessfully to persuade the States to debate was written by the island's Medical Director, Dr Peter Rabey, inset, in his role as Responsible Officer under the Regulation of Health Professionals Law of 2015.
Deputy St Pier used that speech briefly 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 him to 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 have already 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 told the States that the investigator also found “that there was potential bias towards families whose children had complex conditions and parents who were inclined to seek second opinions”.
Deputy St Pier’s motion to debate was seconded by Deputy Tina Bury, the Vice President of the Committee for Health & Social Care.
Pictured: Deputy Tina Bury seconded the motion to debate but the rules of procedure prevented her from speaking on the motion.
The Committee’s President, Deputy Al Brouard, asked the States to reject the motion. He said it would be inappropriate to use a brief report on the regulation and revalidation of doctors to discuss complex cases which Deputy St Pier wanted to raise but which were mentioned only extremely briefly in the report.
“I know that Deputy St Pier has been involved with these very difficult, complex and challenging issues. Not only for the families – I can fully understand their frustration and pain – but also for the clinicians and our Committee,” said Deputy Brouard.
“However, it is still not appropriate that these issues, however well meaning, are played out on the floor of this House. They are not contained in the Responsible Officer's report.
“There are other avenues open to Deputy St Pier, especially in his position as a States’ member, and we are very happy to support him in that. The Committee also would be happy, where possible and without breaching the confidentiality of any of the families, to discuss the recommendations made to it if Deputy St Pier or any other deputy wishes to contact the Committee through the usual channels."
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard secured the support of around three-quarters of the States when he asked members to reject the motion to debate.
“An investigation led to two reports. One referred to in the Responsible Officer’s report and a second report of learnings for the Committee...so that we can make improvements.
“This is key. The Responsible Officer's report, which is the one in front of you, provides no further information relating to the nature of the concerns for very good reason. To do so could inadvertently breach the confidentiality of those service users and practitioners involved...seriously undermining and damaging public confidence in the medical practice of that doctor and the services provided by primary care, Health & Social Care and the Medical Specialist Group."
The defeat of Deputy St Pier's motion to debate the report was the end of the matter as far as this week's States' meeting was concerned.
The States' meeting continues with other business, including proposals to maintain the anti-tank wall at L'Ancresse East and to carry out internal reviews of the island's response to the covid-19 pandemic over the past two years.
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