Our Healthcare staff deserve better leadership

By Ann Esterson

Stories of a toxic culture at the hospital have been circulating for some time but it still came as a shock recently to hear the extent of it from a whistle blower. It is worrying that a senior medic has to resort to anonymity to bring the deteriorating state of affairs to the attention of the general public. Why has the Government not previously identified the problem and taken appropriate action?

It is common knowledge that about nine months ago a large number of consultants wrote a joint letter to the hospital management following changes to the theatre admissions procedure which created an inflexible division between private and public surgeries. These changes were introduced without any consultation. The consultants warned that the changes were flawed and would have a negative impact on patient care, efficiency, and staff morale. Sadly, that warning appears to have been ignored and the outcome is only now becoming plain to see.

As with all toxic cultures, there is never a single reason or incident. It is usually a small poisonous drip at a time, building up until something falls apart and can no longer be covered up. We will probably never know the full story, but lack of respect seems to be a common theme, not just towards hospital medical and nursing staff, especially those who have challenged the perceived thinking, but also across the whole GP sector. Changes are said to be forced through by a clique of ex NHS personnel who have never worked in a health system like ours, in order to deliver the promised but unrealistic savings and efficiencies. There appears to be no meaningful consultation with medical staff or even consideration of Jersey’s size and uniqueness, and all this has nearly brought operating theatres to a standstill. The very basic need in any small organisation is to build in resilience and this has clearly not been considered.

Abuse of positions of power, lack of empathy and humility, and poor judgement destroy motivation, trust and goodwill. Our hospital medical and nursing staff, community GPs and nurses who are in the front line, are going through one of the most difficult times imaginable and need understanding and support from the administration. They have shown great courage throughout this pandemic, putting their own health at risk, for which we must all be grateful, and they deserve better leadership.