Saturday 17 August, 2019

Tufton expresses support for private wings at public hospitals

Dr Christopher Tufton

Dr Christopher Tufton

Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has voiced his support for the concept of private wings at public hospitals.

Speaking at the official launch of the Black River Hospital Foundation (BRHF) in St Elizabeth last Thursday, Dr Tufton said the construction of a private wing at the Hospital, which is being targeted as one of the first tasks of the foundation, is “a concept and principle” that has the endorsement of the ministry.

He argued that the establishment of private wings at some of the island's public hospitals could serve to fill the gaps or offset costs associated with the provision of universal access to healthcare.

Hospital administrators have long complained of a shortfall in revenue because of the Government’s no user fee policy.

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), most notably among the local hospitals, has the private Tony Thwaites Wing where the services offered are on a strictly commercial basis.

Now Dr Tufton would like to see that concept replicated throughout the public health sector.

He said the Government remains steadfast in its commitment to universal access to healthcare, which ensures that no Jamaican or non-national who requires healthcare in Jamaica is denied on the basis of inability to pay.

Nevertheless, he said a “frank discussion” with respect to how this will be financed is needed, one approach being the establishment of private wings.

“And so, we have said to institutions, 'if you can put together those private wings, as long as those private wings do not impede the regular functions of the public health apparatus in terms of the universal access; better yet, if it enhances the provision of universal access, then that's what we really are about',” Dr Tufton outlined.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South West St Elizabeth and State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, also pledged his full support for the establishment of a private wing at the Black River Hospital, which he said could garner well-needed funds for the operation of the overall institution.

Green committed $500,000 from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which he said would be seed money to help the BRHF to “seriously raise funds towards accelerating the establishment of the wing”.

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