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Sections of St Vincent and the Grenadines health ministry needs overhauling, minister agrees

By Robertson S. Henry

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — St Vincent and the Grenadines minister of health and the environment Luke Browne, told parliament that he agrees with a comment by a ‘veteran health professional’ via social media that certain areas of the health ministry have to be overhauled “to make them more efficient.”

Health minister Browne was debating the 2020 budget at the time, adding that his ministry has to think about certain things “as far as making us more efficient in our healthcare expenditure. And I think that we could identify a couple of these areas and one such area, I believe to be the Radiology Department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. I looked at the amount of money that we spend on overtime [or spent on overtime] at the radiology department last year, and it amounted to $140,000 — $104,960.”

“I think that could be saved if we organise ourselves and not only would it be saved, but we will have a better experience for the persons who need these Radiological services because if we could have doctor, on a shift system, making sure that there is a medical presence at the hospital all the time,” he said.

“And if you could have nurses on a shift system, making sure that there is the presence of nursing personnel all the time at the hospital. And if invariably, when somebody comes to the hospital at the A&E department which functions on a 24/7 basis, they’re going to be there when we need to refer them to some kind of Radiological investigation, then it makes sense for us to have the staff that department on a shift system as well.”

Browne said this makes sense from a patient care standpoint and the staff standpoint of increasing efficiency, and admitted that the government is paying too much to professionals at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and will be addressing the situation.

The health minister said there’s much to be gained by thinking about the reorganization of certain aspects of the health services. He said that while the Radiology department might be the focus of his comment, there are other areas for which a change to a shift system might be applicable.

“It makes sense from a management and administrative standpoint because the person who is on call overnight will always be called to duty. So might as well there’s somebody stationed there. And when you’re called to duty like that, the next day you’re not able to function properly and you don’t know who was on call the night before so you’re not able to track things properly,” he explained.

The health minister indicated that this may be applicable in the laboratory, and pharmacy. “Somebody comes and is issued a prescription, it may be convenient and important and useful for them to be able to fill a prescription immediately at the hospital.”

According to Browne, his ministry has seen some progress “and we’re just going to let it lie like that”, and is “in a relentless quest and push for improvement in every aspect. “There are some other areas in which we should also seek to create some improvement. We have to improve in the matter of all supplies management; we have to improve on the question of our medical record-keeping.

“I must say that the full activation, the full and proper activation of the health information system in which this government has so heavily invested has a bearing on both of these issues. And, some general things that we know that we have to do from our experience, work on waiting times at the accident and emergency department seek to further expand,” Browne told parliament during his debate on the 2020 budget.




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