Sunday, 6 April 2014

A coincidence or three

I've been doing some reading around our proposed new hospital. It is not my usual arena, but recent events have highlighted some aspects that should be input into the planning of the facility, which we can easily image should last the Island a generation or more. Intuitively one would expect population and demographic models to be central. The reticence of the Minister in laying out the details of the models used is troubling. But it is not the only area of concern.

The recently published IPPC report is quite clear there are expected health, including mental health impacts on small island states. The summary can be found at . Unlike previous reports, this one explicitly identifies current impacts are occurring "Local changes in temperature and rainfall have altered the distribution of some water-borne illnesses and disease vectors”. A few other pertinent quotes are :

The key risks that follow, all of which are identified with high confidence, span sectors and regions. Each of these key risks contributes to one or more RFCs.33
i. Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small
island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and
sea-level rise”

Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence). Impacts of such climate-related extremes include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, morbidity and mortality, and consequences for mental health and human well-being. For countries at all levels of development, these impacts are consistent with a significant lack of preparedness for current climate variability in some sectors.”

I have written to the health minister to ask what extent these changes, both present and future have been considered in the planning of the hospital.

However I came across something else while looking for information. The hospital managing director is of course a pivotal person on the future of the hospital. So I did a search. A brief cv for Mrs. Helen O'Shea is on the States web site at . I used to do a lot of technical recruitment interviewing when I was running a rapidly growing software business. I've seen a lot of cv's. Two things about that online piece stood out to me immediately. While all the other positions held had accompanying dates, the time at Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust does not. The other is the repeated occurrence of acting or interim office for what look like exceptionally long periods. This naturally raises the question of why she did not become the actual chief? It might be as straight forward as a glass ceiling effect.

Perhaps that temporal absence is simply a stylistic choice by a content manager. However we can infer that Mrs O'Shea was there between 2004 and 2011, rather longer than the other establishments. A very long time to be an acting chief, so I assume some other roles and positions were omitted. Her public profile on LinkedIn is even less informative, listing only the current position. More useful is zoominfo Here we can identify that in 2006 Mrs O'Shea was director of performance (not an executive director however).

A bit more digging and this came up from the 30th October 2008. Mrs O'Shea it seems did not put herself forward to be Chief Executive, despite having been acting chief for six months according to that article. (So that clarifies one of the points above). Perhaps it is not too surprising that she didn't pursue the opportunity when you read this : I'd say that was the right decision to make for the acting Chief, but you have to wonder what responsibility the former director of performance and director of operations had for being in such a position of failing to meet standards and the public's expectations.

That wasn't the only problem the Trust had that year. In April it was all over the national press after a bogus nurse was in court. See and Whether the recruitment, appraisal and performance checks up to that point came under Mrs O'Shea's directorial responsibility I cannot say, but it cannot have sat comfortably given her immediate prior title.

Did the HR department and interviewing staff go to the bottom of those irritating and stand out cv points? Is it coincidence that in 2012 Jersey appointed a new hospital managing director who had experience of public glare due to a rogue or bogus nurse and a hospital failing to meet targets? Is it possible that the hospital, knowing they had problems with a rogue nurse, as exposed by Stuart Syvret, thought they had found someone who could protect them and 'tidy up' from the fall out? I have no idea. There is nothing of any substantive fact to show Mrs O'Shea to be anything other than a professional in her field. And yet there are those annoying coincidences and little questions that nag away at one's confidence.