Government response to Covid-19 scrutinised


12th April 2022

​The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published its report examining the Government of Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since it arrived in Jersey in February 2020, with specific focus on procurement procedures, financial management and performance management. 

Overall, the Committee is satisfied with the Government’s management of finances and performance during the pandemic given the exceptionally challenging circumstances, and acknowledges the outstanding service provided by individuals across all areas of public service. 

In this context, the Committee has made several recommendations to the Government for the management of its response to future crises. These include: 

  • Replacing the 32-year-old Emergency Powers and Planning Law so that it fully reflects the realities of ministerial governance for future crises 
  • Reviewing the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) function and the effectiveness of Government emergency design-making bodies to identify improvements and whether there is a need for a distinct scientific advisory body 
  • Providing staff at the General Hospital with the opportunity to take part in a participatory survey and review to assess staff wellbeing and concerns arising from the pandemic 
  • Improving the clarity and legibility of guidance for future business support schemes to reduce overclaims 
  • A review of the approach to agriculture and other sectors excluded from financial and PPE support to determine how it should best be provided to local industries and organisations. 

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Deputy Inna Gardiner, said: “We appreciate that, due to the nature of such exceptional events, the Government’s response to Covid-19 could not have been predicted or rehearsed. However, the stresses placed upon our emergency response team and the wider civil service exposed weaknesses in its procedures which can be improved to enhance Jersey’s response to future emergencies. The system that we use to tailor those solutions can and should be improved following every emergency as a matter of routine. In this way we can identify areas in which streamlined decision-making could improve our future response.” 

Vice Chair and lead Member for this review, Constable Karen Shenton-Stone, said: “As the community begins to recover from the significant challenges of the pandemic, we must reflect on past decisions so that successive Governments are better equipped to deal with future emergency situations. 

“Having heard from those providing and receiving the services and support which informed part of the Government’s response, we have collated a number of key findings and recommendations which we hope will inform and improve governance and accountability in future crises. As the pandemic and indeed the Government’s response is not yet over, we urge this Committee’s successor to continue this important work by reviewing aspects of the Covid-19 response such as the Test and Trace and Vaccination Programmes as part of its future work programme.”

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