Trinidad and Tobago: Dr Lackram Bodoe is the sitting Member of Parliament for the constituency of Fyzabad stated, Reports in today’s Trinidad Guardian newspaper showing chaos outside the San Fernando Teaching Hospital SWRHA by patients seeking care at the outpatient clinics suggest that the SWRHA needs to review how they process patients at outpatient clinics fundamentally.
The further statement of Dr Lackram Bodoe:
This incident comes on the heel of similar complaints at the NCRHA outpatient clinics about two months ago.
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 problematic when the health authorities are reporting increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, including the highly transmissible Brazil P1 variant.
Whilst the block system of appointment, where patients are given specific times to attend the clinics, is helpful in regular times, it 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, the fundamental issue is that that whilst the parallel healthcare system is treating COVID-19 cases, the standard 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.
Last week, this same 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, 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 of the public healthcare system.
The system for making new appointments that currently require the patient or nominee to go to the outpatient department to secure a position physically can be improved using technology for virtual interviews. Ultimately, though, this is a case of management failing to anticipate and preempt a situation that ironically puts the very patients they seek to treat at risk of getting sick.
Where is the SWRHA Board of Directors, whose role is to provide oversight and policy guidance in all of this? Suppose it is true that the current board’s term has expired and a new board is yet to be appointed. In that case, the Minister of Health must ensure that a new committee is appointed quickly and that the CEO is held accountable for a situation as what occurred yesterday.
Doctors, nurses, Para clinical and administrative staff continue to toil under challenging conditions to keep the regular healthcare system working. However, it appears that the Minister of Health is failing to ensure the necessary oversight of the RHAs and guarantee that the much-needed resources so essential to provide timely and proper healthcare for citizens are available.