Gov’t to spend $1b to cut waiting time in public health system

The Government is to spend $1 billion on an initiative to address excessive waiting in the public health system.

Focus will be placed on reducing the long waits for certain day and inpatient surgeries, diagnostic tests, and bed space shortages.

This was announced by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, during his contribution to the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday..

He informed that Professor Archibald McDonald, a trained surgeon and respected academic, will be appointed to oversee this effort.

Tufton pointed out that currently there are patients waiting over a year for general surgeries, such as hernia.

“It’s not going to kill them, but it places citizens of this country in so much pain. There is downtime from work,” he said.

For other procedures, such as hysterectomies or myomectomies, there are patients waiting for over 10 months, and for surgeries, including radical prostatectomy, patients are waiting for over six months.

“We would be an uncaring government if we did not find a way to respond to this very difficult situation for so many Jamaicans. Those who are poorest are the ones that suffer the most,” Tufton said.

Under the programme, Jamaicans who are examined in the public health system and approved for diagnostic tests will be given the tests free of charge, even if they have to get them done by an approved private provider.

In the case of surgeries, the Government will look at the priority placement of each surgery and determine a maximum wait time. Similarly, where possible, the Government will outsource those procedures to achieve minimal wait.