The health sector could see major improvements if the plans to introduce physicians within community health centres and increases in the number of qualified nurses by the New National Party (NNP) administration ever materialises.
Health Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen told Parliament at its most recent sitting last week Friday that her administration has employed the services of four physicians to work in communities throughout the island to better serve patients.
She said that the governing New National Party (NNP) administration will put an end to regular complaints from people about not being able to see a doctor after 2.00 p.m. within the community medical centers.
“Mr. Speaker the New National Party government will put an end to that situation islandwide, but starting in the areas where we can, this is what we promised and we are delivering, Mr. Speaker,” she added.
According to Modeste-Curwen, the contracted physicians will be posted in communities and working extended hours so that their services can be available to the people in need from 8.00 a.m. to 8 00 p.m.
In addition, she said that these medical specialists will be put to work on what she referred to as an on-duty roster so that they can be available if necessary.
She stated that the physicians will be made available throughout community health centres starting at the one in St Patrick so they can become accessible to people from both the eastern and western areas of the country.
The Health Minister disclosed that the employment of these additional specialists is in direct response to complaints from patients of having to wait for long periods in order to see a specialist and in some cases it takes as long as one year to get an appointment.
Modeste-Curwen said that these specialists will operate on a weekly basis and will make regular visits to Departments at the General Hospital such as Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery and Pediatrics.
She also revealed government’s plans to re-employ 66 Registered Nurses (RN) who were dismissed by the previous government of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
Minister Modeste-Curwen informed Parliament that after sitting home for more than a year, her administration has begun re-employing these trained nurses and indicated that later this month more than 40 of them will be back on the job providing services in the various community health centres from St Patrick to Grand Anse in the south of the island.
She said that these nurses would be given additional training to better serve in areas such as food care, nutrition, non-communicable diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
In December 2012, the former Congress government had announced that 31 of the dismissed RN’s were appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Congress said that the nurses were expected to take up duties immediately at various government health facilities throughout the island, including the General Hospital, Princess Alice and Mt. Gay Hospitals, Richmond Home for the Aged and the Community Health Services.
A release that was put out by the former rulers said that the newly appointed nurses who once received EC $700.00 as a stipend from the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), has been placed in Grade E in the service and as such will now be remunerated at EC $1,676.00 per month or EC $ 20,112.00 per annum along with subsistence allowance.
In other health news, Health Minister Modeste-Curwen has announced the establishment of a special fund to help vulnerable people access funds while waiting to secure monies for medical emergencies.
She said that government as well as she personally will ensure that another person does not die while waiting to get monies for a CTC Scan.
“We have allocated funds in the Ministry of Health to assist with that, to assist the indigent. We are working with the Ministry of Social Services and soon we will be unrolling the plan as to how it’s going to be dealt with because sometimes there is financing for certain programmes or for certain needs but the population does not know”, she added
This disclosure came against the backdrop of a resident in St. Patrick who reportedly died a few days ago after lack of funds to get a CTC scan in St. George’s.
Modeste-Curwen stated that certain provisions have been made to allow people with emergency situations to access assistance through government, as well as assistance from the private sector, which is willing to cover the cost of some scans free of cost.