Category Archives: Uncategorised

Meeting with UK Undersecretary of State for Exiting the EU

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

We took the opportunity yesterday to meet with UK Undersecretary of State for Exiting the EU, Robin Walker. Daniel Feetham, Roy Clinton, Trevor Hammond and Robert Vasquez attended the meeting in which a briefing was provided on the position of the UK Government with respect to Gibraltar and Brexit and assurances were given that many of the concerns peculiar to Gibraltar were of importance in the process.

We were able to set out our views, which have been consistent since the result of the referendum; that it was vital to Gibraltar’s interests that we be a part of any trade deals that Britain might make as part of this process with the EU and also with any third parties who are not in the EU; that we retain and expand upon the ‘single market’ with the UK, and that maintaining fluidity of flow of people and vehicles at the frontier was essential to our economy and could not be sacrificed to expedite or improve the outcome of negotiations for the United Kingdom.

thumbnail_IMG_6473

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

Social Insurance Increases undermines Families and Small Businesses

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

We have noted the increases in Social Insurance announced by the Government last Friday which are effective next month.  These measures would normally be announced at the annual Budget session and the Government now it would appear is set on introducing cost increases by stealth ahead of the Budget so as to cowardly avoid having to debate them in Parliament.

GSD shadow minister for public finance, Roy Clinton,commented “In his 2016 Budget speech the Chief Minister stated that he would NOT increase social insurance contributions due to the seismic effect of Brexit and that he would observe the effects of the decision on business in Gibraltar before doing so and only if necessary. These measures will cost employers on average an extra £183.56 per annum per employee and employees will take home £121.68 on average less per year. Families and ordinary working people will be obviously worse off at a time when inflation is running at 2.5%. “Thus small businesses and employees across the board will feel the pinch” as the Chief Minister himself remarked in his budget debate contribution in 2010 during the last Social Insurance increase.
I invite the Chief Minister to answer his own question in 2010 namely: “if we are running surpluses, if we are in such good shape… tell us why it is that we need to further increase the cost of doing business in Gibraltar?”  The small business sector is still reeling from the recent unpopular increase in business licencing fees and red tape, this latest additional cost to small businesses is the last thing they need ahead of Brexit.”

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

We’re calling on Government to explain Charles Bruzon House delays

By | Uncategorised | No Comments
We have received representations from Senior Citizens who are now concerned at the unexplained delays in getting the keys to their newly allocated homes at Charles Bruzon House. It is now a whole month since the draw for the allocation of flats was made and as yet the Ministry for Housing is unable to say when residents will be able to move into their new homes.
A group of Senior Citizens have explained to us how they eagerly started to pack their personal belongings a month ago in order to be as ready as possible to move into their new homes with the minimum of delays. However, to date, the Ministry for Housing is unwilling to commit themselves to say when the keys to their new homes will actually be handed over. “It is not just a question of signing a new rental contract and getting your keys” explained a very concerned Senior Citizen, “we then have to make arrangements for the connections of electrical and potable water services. Based upon others’ experiences we know that the connection of these services will take some time unless we are willing to pay extra charges for a speedy service, this is something Senior Citizens wish to avoid”.
GSD MP, Edwin Reyes, calls upon the Minister for Housing and other senior officials to issue a statement so that all future residents of Charles Bruzon House may have their questions answered as soon as possible.
Edwin Reyes
Read More
Share with your Friends:         

We Welcome Speed Cameras Despite Delays

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

We have today welcomed the announcement by Government that at last the speed cameras, which have been in place for so long, will shortly become operational and we’ll be carefully monitoring when this actually happens. The whole episode has been an embarassment to the Minister for Transport who really should not make too much of finally getting this project off the ground, if this latest announcement by Government is to be believed.

Trevor Hammond, GSD MP, said “It’s important to look back at the reasons cited for the introduction of speed cameras which the Minister said was to address “the numerous concerns resulting from serious or lethal injuries as a direct result of excessive speeding on our roads”. Those were his words not ours and it was therefore according to him a matter of public safety and yet the Minister was saying this in early November 2015, nearly 18 months ago!
“He also explained in that press release that “all the infrastructure and legislation for the speed cameras is now in place” and that our roads “will no doubt be safer for all”. The legislation that the Minister said was in place in November 2015 was only passed by Parliament in October 2016. It is a remarkable indictment of the Minister’s abject failure in respect of this project, his Government’s lack of priorities on matters of public safety and the propensity of this administration to mislead the public that this project might be coming to fruition over a year later than first announced”.

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

Doctor resignations will affect continuity of care

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

Yet another consultant has left the GHA according to information being received by the GSD from distressed patients who have had appointments cancelled.  This follows the resignation of Dr Kovac, a surgeon at the hospital, within the last few weeks and four consultants last year together with an unprecedented morale survey conducted by doctors at the hospital.  This time, we are told it is Dr Lorenc the endocrinologist that has suddenly resigned. The news has been so sudden that patients were called yesterday to be told that appointments with the doctor today were cancelled.  Dr Lorenc was a highly regarded doctor who saw (amongst other patients) people suffering from diabetics.  It is inevitable that this and other recent resignations will create an unfortunate vacuum in continuity of care. The GSD calls on the Government to explain what contingency plans it has in place to reassure patients who have had their appointments cancelled that they will be seen by alternative doctors within a reasonable period of time.

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

GSD successfully drives forward its position on mandatory drugs testing in prisons

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

We are pleased that as a direct result of our questioning in the last session of Parliament the Government has agreed with our position, namely, that we should ensure that the Prison Service makes use of the statutory powers it has in order to make mandatory drugs testing of inmates a reality.  It will be recalled that it was the former GSD Government that made provision for mandatory drugs testing in Prisons but some 5 years later the Government has been very slow to expedite this critical work within our Prisons.

Last year Elliott Phillips MP asked the former Justice Minister Gilbert Lucudi QC MP questions on the mandatory testing of prisoners.  We were told three things by the former Justice Minister (1) that the technology for such tests was not calibrated (2) that the Superintendent preferred voluntary arrangements with Prisoners in exchange for privileges (3) that the Superintendent of Prisons had not issued the requisite statutory notice despite the legal framework being put in place by a GSD Government over 5 years ago.

In the recent parliamentary session the newly appointed Justice Minister agreed with the Opposition and accepted our invitation to speak with the Superintendent in order to ensure that mandatory drugs testing of inmates was to be actively pursued.

Elliott Phillips, Shadow Justice Minister, said “we believe it is right that the authorities use the powers at their disposal to get inmates away from drugs and their abuse and moving them towards making a positive contribution to our community. Substance abuse must be tackled at ever level in our community and if we have the statutory muscle to tackle drugs there is no reason why we should not do so. We continue to express disappointment not to have received a explanation for the 5 year delay of the Government to ensure that mandatory drugs testing becomes a practical reality but we welcome Minister Costa’s stance and his commitment to working with us on this important issue”.

Elliott Phillips

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

Blame GSD for Marrache parole is just surreal

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

The Government’s latest statement in relation to the Marrache debacle is surreal. Now it is suggesting that Isaac Marrache has been released because of legislation introduced by GSD Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition, Danny Feetham, when he was Minister for Justice. It takes their “blame the GSD” mantra to a whole new levels. It is also not true. The qualifying period for parole has been in existence for decades and has nothing to do with Danny Feetham or the GSD.

The GSD introduced the current appeal procedure, whereby the Minister for Justice was given the power to ask the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Parole Board, where he felt, on the face of their reasoning, that the Parole Board had got it wrong. It is that procedure that the current Minister for Justice, Mr. Costa, has botched in the case of Isaac Marrache by placing the matter before the Supreme Court and then attempting to withdraw his application.

Daniel Feetham said “First I was accused of cutting the electricity supply to mothers and babies, and now it is my fault that Isaac Marrache has been released on parole. I suppose it was also my fault that the Minister so botched the matter that Mr. Marrache was unlawfully at large, according to the judge, for a quite some time before the issue was finally resolved.”

“The fact is that the Government has had five years to change the law on parole. It could have done so before any of the Marrache brothers qualified for parole and it chose not to do so.”

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

Government survey response an insult to doctors

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

The Government continues to rely on smokescreens rather than deal with the concerns of people in the community.  To dismiss as scaremongering the results of a survey in which 31 doctors at the hospital participated in, is an insult to the genuine concerns expressed by those doctors.

The fact that doctors have felt strongly enough to participate and express their views in a survey of this nature is in itself telling.  This is unprecedented and is an expression of significant discontent, which the Government would be foolish to ignore.

The Government seeks to undermine the survey by pointing out that it only sampled the views of 31 out of 81 doctors throughout the GHA.  Only an out of touch Government would make such a point.  The survey was intended to be a survey of doctors practising at St Bernard’s hospital and not the GHA generally.  Even if it were otherwise, a sample of 38% of doctors throughout the GHA is a very large sample indeed.

Rather than undermine the efforts of doctors to bring to the attention of the GHA real concerns with the way the hospital is managed, perhaps the Government should conduct its own staff morale survey either in relation to doctors or medical staff generally.  We would be very surprised if they were not reflective of the survey in which these 31 doctors participated in.

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

Meeting on £300 million housing estates loan scheduled

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

The Chief Minister has written to the Opposition proposing a date of 23 January 2017 to host a meeting in respect of the nature of the £300 million loan secured on the six housing estates.

In lieu of answering tabled official Parliamentary questions on 22nd September 2016, the Chief Minister offered to host a meeting with its technical advisers and Members of the Opposition in order to provide the detailed information that had been requested on the £300 million loan. This offer was accepted by the Opposition in the interests of expediency and on condition that non–commercially sensitive information could be disclosed to the public.

Roy Clinton GSD MP with shadow responsibility for public finance said: “Despite the delay in organising the meeting, I naturally welcome that a date has now been set to meet the Government’s technical advisors and I look forward to meeting them and finding out more about the terms of the £300 million loan.”

Read More
Share with your Friends:         

We are shocked at results of doctor survey

By | Uncategorised | No Comments

We have received the results of a Staff Morale Survey conducted by a doctor or doctors within St Bernard’s Hospital.  The results were apparently compiled from anonymous responses collected over two days in October, from 31 contract or permanent doctors and surgeons at the hospital.  All the doctors available on those days were apparently approached and all doctors approached responded.

There were three broad areas on which the opinion of doctors were sought: morale, perception of management and continued work within the GHA.  A 5 point scale was used with 1 being strongly disagree with the statement made and 5 being strongly agree.

The results were that:

  • 94% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “the GHA is well managed”.  No doctor actually agreed with the statement!
  • 87% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “management respects the views of the medical staff”
  • 67% have considered leaving the GHA in the last 12 months
  • 35% are actively looking for work outside the GHA
  • 13% are leaving in the next 6 months
  • 73% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “moral amongst the doctors in the GHA in general is good”
  • 39% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “my moral is good”
  • 55% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “moral in my department is good”
  • 84% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “morale has improved in the last 12 months”

The comments made by doctors as part of the survey are also concerning. They range from “cultural tendencies and political games constantly interfere with patient’s medical management” to “staff morale is extremely poor under the current management.  So much resources are wasted due to poor management. The medical staff is not being consulted by the managers in important matters as budget etc”

Daniel Feetham, GSD Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition, said “these results if true are shocking. They come off the back of the loss of a number of very good surgeons which the Government tried to explain away in very unconvincing fashion. The Government may say that the survey has not been conducted officially by the GHA but for doctors to feel that they should be conducting and/or participating in such a survey in these numbers, shows that they feel strongly about the current situation at the Hospital.”

We call on the Minister for Health Neil Costa to undertake an enquiry into this survey and if true address the concerns that have been raised as a matter of urgency.

Read More
Share with your Friends: