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SLMDA president Dr. Alphonsus St. Rose

SLMDA bemoans “continued lack of transparency” despite gov’t talks

[Press Release] Subsequent to last press conference SLMDA has had two meetings with the Prime Minister, all in attempts to sensitize the government to the urgency of dealing fairly, expeditiously, transparently and accountably with this healthcare crisis.

To date we are yet to see any official document with a comprehensive plan on how it intends to navigate and fix our current healthcare emergency. This healthcare crisis is as much a national imperative as it is about humanitarian issues and human dignity.

We do object strongly though to the continued lack of transparency and collective inclusion in consultations on the most important of healthcare matters. Healthcare, a fundamental human right, today represents an existential threat to our survival. Consequently, we all harbor legitimate anxieties and widespread concerns on the way forward.

We recently toured the St. Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project (SJHRP) site accompanied by the St. Jude Hospital Board, doctors and nurses (especially those from the south and SJH), and a technical team of competent and qualified St. Lucian professionals who are well placed to assist in bringing the SJH matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

Broadly speaking the purpose of the site tour was:

– To assess the status of works done thus far in relation to determining the most efficient cost and time specific approach needed to restore and complete the facility as would be advised by the technical team.

– To contribute towards formulating an appropriate position paper to be presented to the government on our healthcare crisis, solutions and recommendations. This we intend to fully disclose and share with you the public as well.

Our major health institutions, Victoria and St. Jude Hospitals are currently facing stresses of immense proportions setting the stage for a downwards spiral beyond our capacity to handle in spite of our professionalism, responsibility and goodwill.

These deplorable circumstances in which we are expected to deliver healthcare services to the public accounts for the poor quality of our healthcare delivery outcomes and increasing numbers of unwarranted deaths, all continuing to spiral out of control.

The example of St. Jude Hospital being housed in the most shameful and deplorable of conditions (aptly described as a “dungeon of shame” by the very chairman of its board), for 9 years now speaks volumes.

This unfortunately will continue for at least 2 more years in a most embarrassing, inhumane, undignified and unhealthy environment. Staff morale is already at an all-time low and their frustrations are palpable and wearing thin.

Obviously, this will become a watershed moment, of relevance to the true mettle of the staff, patients and citizenry.

We have only recently learnt once more via the media, of what the government’s intentions on healthcare are. Our analysis has indicated from all accounts, that the SJHRP can be completed at a cost phenomenally less than it would take to build a new facility and in much less time (six to ten months).

SLMDA would therefore like to make some preliminary recommendations:

– That the government treats the completion of SJH as a priority matter and commence work without further delays.

– Completion the SJHRP is to be done in a phased manner and completed by no later than February 2019.

– That in order to alleviate the horrible conditions at George Odlum National Stadium (GONS) priority must be given to completing the East (medical) Wing at the SJHRP which can house all critical departments presently operational at GONS.

– That all agreements be done with full advance disclosure and transparency; that only highly specialized and technologically advanced services not already available on island be outsourced.

SLMDA strongly advocates that both OKEU and SJH remaining public for the benefit of all citizens.

That the OKEU board be established soonest (within one month) to conform to the legal requirements established in the MHMC Act of 2015.

That the NIC be considered as the principal provider of the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). SLMDA is willing to assist in shaping this initiative alongside the government and other stakeholders.

SLMDA would like to call on the government to engage all stakeholders and the public on these healthcare matters at the earliest in an honest, objective and transparent manner as promised by the Prime Minister.

The delivery of quality, affordable and accessible healthcare services to all citizens is a fundamental responsibility of every government. But the framework required to support our national healthcare system is grossly inadequate and broken. As such the government must now assume full responsibility for healthcare and it is the public’s expectation that they fix it, responsibly, quickly and properly.

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