Health Sector Being Undermined - Baugh

Release Date: 
Friday, July 25, 2014 - 14:00

Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr. Kenneth Baugh today said he is extremely concerned about the PNP Administration's management of the Health Sector which has led to considerable tensions and industrial action.  He called on the Minister to directly intervene in the dispute now underway between junior doctors and the Ministry of Health.

According to Dr. Baugh, “The constraints being applied by the current administration are choking off the services being provided by hospitals resulting in a significant reduction in emergency services. The health services are facing a financial crisis which is affecting the delivery of care to the Jamaican people."

He commented:  "It appears that the Ministry of Health has indirectly communicated instructions to severely cut doctor's overtime duty by some 40-50%. This could easily leave the hospitals without emergency  services. The doctors have decided to go on sick out as the first step of an industrial action which is likely to escalate and could spread to other members of the staff who are currently suffering a similar fate."

He explained that the action is probably related to the fact that the government is trying to cope with billions of dollars of arrears to creditors in the health sector, and advised that the arrears include the salary deductions of nurses which have not been paid over to the appropriate institutions. Dr.  Baugh said "The overall effect of the current concerns is that the already significantly compromised level of services to the people of Jamaica are being  further reduced."

Dr. Baugh said that he is specifically concerned with the current situation in the western region where doctors and nurses are not receiving their full salaries.  He said: “The morale of the staff in the western region is very low at this point and it is not surprising that there is industrial action. If the government really cared about the health and wellbeing of the Jamaican citizen they would fix these issues urgently”.

The Opposition Spokesman added that with current economic challenges facing Jamaicans it is important that there is a robust public healthcare system in place as more and more Jamaicans are finding it harder to access private care.

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