Tuesday 28 January, 2020

Health minister defends relocation delay from Cornwall Regional

Minister of Health, Christopher Tufton has disclosed that close to 1800 major surgeries were conducted at the Cornwall Regional Hospital last year.

He was responding to the Opposition's charge that failure to follow recommendations to shut down the facility for repairs, has resulted in staff members falling ill.

But in his defence, the health minister pointed out that by keeping the hospital plant open to offer services, several lives were saved.

“Last year the hospital did almost 1800 emergency surgeries over the last year. Those are 1800 persons who potentially could have died based on the nature of an emergency surgery. So when I hear the call about shutting down without alternatives I really have to redirect that call and the question. What would have happened if that had taken place?  The evidence is very clear that we would have had significant issues, including loss of lives," he concluded.

"A crisis developed which required relocation and that relocation took time in order to provide alternative space," said Tufton.

He was speaking at a press conference at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, following a tour of the facility with acting Prime Minister, Horace Chang, was, however, quick to express his regret over the staff members and patients who have reported ill at the facility.

"I appreciate, and I am very sensitive to the inconveniences of those who would have been affected. It is something that we are taking steps to address.  I have listened to the concerns of the nurses and the doctors and I am very sensitive to those concerns.  At the same time the issue becomes what you do when you don't have alternatives of providing a critical service as Cornwall Regional is providing," Tufton said. 

He hit back at the Opposition's call for an inquiry into the crisis at the ailing hospital, instead calling for an inquiry to determine why, for over two decades the institution has been allowed to deteriorate in the absence of maintenance.

"If there is any need for an inquiry it is an inquiry as to why we have failed to maintain the institution over an extended period of time," Tufton said.

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