Fyzabad MP, Dr Lackram Bodoe is calling for better systems to be put in place for outpatients in the public health sector.
This after reports circulated of chaos outside the San Fernando Teaching Hospital by patients seeking care at the outpatient clinics.
Dr Bodoe said the incident suggests that the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) needs to fundamentally review how they process patients at outpatient clinics.
This incident comes on the heel of similar complaints at the NCRHA outpatient clinics about two months ago.
Dr Bodo said “The large numbers of patients gathered at the entrance of the outpatient department without adequate physical distancing ironically puts them and others at risk of contracting and or spreading COVID-19 at a healthcare institution. This is especially worrisome at a time when the health authorities are reporting increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, including the highly transmissible Brazil P1 variant.”
He said “Whilst the block system of appointment, where patients are given specific times to attend the clinics is useful in normal times, it obviously collapsed yesterday. The failure of management, including hospital security to recognise early the impending crisis meant that the police had to be called in to restore order, putting police officers themselves at risk of catching the virus.”
However, Bodoe said the fundamental issue is that whilst the parallel healthcare system is treating with COVID-19 cases, the normal healthcare system is failing many patients, many of whom continue to require treatment for their chronic health conditions, with others seeking care for emerging health issues.
He said that only last week, the Guardian newspaper reported that surgeries were affected at the San Fernando General Hospital due to shortages of certain drugs and supplies. Some in that crowd yesterday could very well have been those seeking new appointments for postponed surgeries.
Additionally, Dr Bodoe said “The difficult financial situation that many citizens find themselves in because of this Government’s poor economic management of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the numbers who are utilising the public healthcare system.
The system for making new appointments which currently requires the patient or nominee to physically go to the outpatient department to secure an appointment can be improved with the use of technology for virtual interviews. Ultimately, though, this is a case of management failing to anticipate and preempt a situation that ironically put the very patients they are seeking to treat at risk of getting sick.”
“Where is the SWRHA Board of Directors, whose role it is to provide oversight and policy guidance in all of this? If it is true that the term of the current board has expired and a new board is yet to be appointed, then the Minister of Health must take responsibility to ensure that not only is a new board appointed quickly but that the CEO is held accountable for a situation as what occurred yesterday.” he said.
Bodoe said “Doctors, nurses, para-clinical and administrative staff continue to toil under difficult conditions to keep the regular healthcare system working. However, it appears that Minister of Health is failing in his responsibility to ensure the necessary oversight of the RHAs and to guarantee that the much-needed resources so necessary to provide timely and proper healthcare for citizens are available.”