I was shocked and disappointed when I heard about the proposed transfer of the endoscopy service from Ramsey Cottage Hospital (RDCH) to Nobles.
Not just because it seemed like a backwards step but mainly I was shocked because of the way I found out – through the rumour mill.
The decision to relocate the service would clearly impact on the whole Town, and also raised a lot of questions – Why is this happening? What about the staff? What about the patients? Is this just the first step, what about the future of the Hospital?
As the days went by and still no official word from the Department of Health and more and more it was starting to look like there was more to this decision than we were being told.
Now to cut a long story short, having met with the department, read through all their press releases and attending the requisition meeting it turns out that the Deoartment believe they have good operational reasons to relocate the service – and they have firm intentions to move more services into Ramsey in the very near future.
So why didn’t they tell us this in the first place?
Why put staff, patients and the public through the wringer for no reason whatsoever?
Why didn’t the Department engage with the Trustees of two charities who have donated significant sums of money to the hospital and who have almost entirely funded the endoscopy equipment at RDCH that the Department want to relocate?
The damage done to the relationship with the Trustees is significant, perhaps having real long term repercussions for future charitable funding for the health service.
Staff morale has been hit, patients were left in limbo, uncertain about their treatments, and public confidence in government has taken another battering.
The way the Department has handled communicating this decision is nothing short of scandalous, patients deserve better, staff deserve better, those donating their time and energy to supporting the health service deserve better and importantly the public deserve better.
Because of this I have written to the Chairman of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee to ask him to investigate the way the Department handled this issue and to hold them accountable for their failures.
We have to rebuild trust in government and the only way we can do that is to show that when Departments don’t treat people fairly and aren’t open and transparent they will be made to explain themselves to Tynwald.
We can’t live with ‘lessons have been learned’ any more – when mistakes are made we need to hold government to account to make sure they don’t keep repeating these mistakes. We need a change in culture, and it’s public accountability that will bring this about.