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30th July 2020, 19:57

Chief Minister, as Minister for Industrial Relations, says door will always be open

For his part, the Chief Minister, as Minister for Industrial Relations, says his door will always be open. The Union, he says has very good channels of communication with the Government on this and on every other issue.

Fabian Picardo adds that this will however, not mean that they will agree on everything.

Clinical governance in UK has been defined as “a system through which NHS organisations are accountable for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish”. Clinical staff working for the GHA are required to be registered with the Gibraltar Medical Registration Board (GMRB), and also registered and regulated by their respective professional bodies.

The Government states that in the last year, a handful of GHA clinical staff have been reported to a professional body for a broad range of issues from a complaint submitted by a patient, to issues with clinical standards of practice. These professional bodies, it says, are in the position to determine whether their own standards have been upheld in specific cases or whether they have not.

It adds the whole objective of the process is to sustain and improve standards of patient case in the best interests of staff and service users.

A Government statement goes on to say that in those cases where an individual registered with one of these professional bodies may be involved in a police investigation, it is advised and encouraged that they report this fact to their professional body, as much for support and advice as for regulation.

It claims clinical standards of practice are applied equally to all clinicians, irrespective of their grade or seniority and that there is no question of the application of rigorous clinical governance being designed or employed to punish GHAworkers.

As Minister for Industrial Relations, Fabian Picardo says he's been working very well with Unite on a number of issues in respect of their health branch. He says he represents the taxpayer, the patients and the ordinary Gibraltarian as well as the members of the union who have today taken this action. Mr Picardo adds they can't always agree on everything, saying there's a need for an objective and proper standard of clinical governance.

He says he hears the concerns of the union and is ready and willing to engage on those concerns at the earliest opportunity as he has on all other matters. Expressing optimism he says that despite initial disagreement, with constructive engagement they can get to positive conclusions which are in the common interest of all in the community. He adds he looks forward to doing so in respect of these concerns also as they have on many other thorny matters in the past.

GBC put in questions regarding concerns raised by Unite over what it says is an "increasing use of services originating from Sheffield" and the "lack of a transparent process" behind this. The Government says that during his time as Medical Director, Dr Cassaglia put in place a team to deliver Clinical Governance in the GHA, describing this as an "established system of creating and maintaining standards of clinical practice". 

It says this included Professor Derek Burke, a retired Medical Director from Sheffield Children's Hospital, along with a number of others from within the GHA. During this time, the Government says, Professor Burke introduced Pioneer Healthcare, based in Sheffield, who were brought in for a period of just three months on a short-term contract-for-services basis, to tackle waiting lists for Spinal Surgery, Urology and Paediatric Orthopaedics.

Asked about the responsibilities Dr Daniel Cassaglia is currently undertaking, the Government says he is currently working as on-call Consultant Paediatrician, and is not working in any managerial capacity at the GHA. It adds he is also assisting in a coordinating role at the Public Health Laboratory at the University, stating this is not a GHA role.