Been there, done that
That was the word of Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he examined the Barbados Labour Party’s manifesto plans for the health sector at his own Democratic Labour Party manifesto launch last night.
At the National Cultural Foundation in West Terrace, in his St. James South constituency, Inniss told the crowd that the BLP’s plans for a “state of the art hospital” had already been announced by the DLP.
“The majority of things written about health care in the Barbados Labour Party manifesto has already been implemented by the Democratic Labour Party, so I don’t know what they are trying to fool you with,” said the health minister.
About the hospital, he said when a new hospital was proposed during the BLP Administration, it was rejected by then Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who instead wanted to renovate the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Inniss said the DLP had decided that a new facility was needed, meanwhile the BLP manifesto was saying that it might not be able to create the “state of the art” hospital it spoke of immediately because of the “harsh economic times”.
He said as well that the BLP manifesto spoke of the procurement of an integrated information system, arguing that the DLP had already identified funding for such and were decided on its implementation, a process that had already begun.
An effective health information system with electronic records, Inniss said would put an end to issues of missing notes, missing records, patients having to take documents and/or prescriptions between departments.
“This Democratic Labour Party make a commitment to you to have electronic patient records being fully utilised in a public health institution within 12 months after being re-elected. We have started the process… A contract is about to be awarded for the digitalisation of medical records in the QEH…
“At the upper level, gone are days when we would have to track paper records around. We are working towards the stage where when you see a doctor, they can sit at their desk and input information into a computer system. So if you need blood work done the laboratory department can pick it up electronically… This protects you, it improves patient care and it certainly reduces the cost of health care overall. This is what we have been working on and we will deliver in 12 to 18 months.”
Likewise, he said their opposition’s promise to decentralise the ambulance service, was a project that had already been undertaken by the DLP which said it would fully decentralise that service.
Furthermore, community mental health care was an issue they had been working on to de-stigmatise the illness, and as such the DLP had appointed 16 nurses to the polyclinics dedicated to such care and had created posts for two additional psychiatrists in the service and were at the point of engaging the services of psychologists as well.
To further improve polyclinic care, he said they intended to extend the services offered to a higher level, which would include training in the areas of dentistry, diabetic care, gerontology and ophthalmology, adding that contracts had already been prepared to hire the requisite professionals. There were also offers coming in for the provision of diagnostic services and equipment to the polyclinics to ease the burden now experienced by the QEH.
Regarding elderly care, Inniss said too that they were implementing tax credits to allow home owners who retrofit their house for better access and accommodation for elderly persons living there would be entitled to $2,000 rebates under the DLP. (LB)