Phillips wants PM to address CRH issue

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips on Tuesday demanded that Prime Minister Andrew Holness address the issue of the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), saying that the head of Government needs to speak to the one-year delay in implementing a Ministry of Health recommendation to evacuate the facility.

This, Phillips said, is important because someone should be held responsible for the health problems experienced by hospital staff since the recommendation was made.

“Who is going to be accountable to the people of Jamaica for the overturning of the recommendation; of the adverse, in fact, disastrous, consequences to the health of the people of the country? There must be someone held accountable, and ultimately it is an issue that the prime minister must address,” Dr Phillips argued.

“The second issue is that we still do not know the extent of the problem, and I think, at minimum, what we need is an independent public enquiry,” he said.

Phillips was addressing a press conference at The Wexford hotel in Montego Bay following the tour of CRH, along with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.

“We are saying that more than one year ago a recommendation came from the technical officials of the Ministry of Health that the hospital should be evacuated, and that after more than one year that decision, which was rejected by the minister of health, was proven to be the correct decision, because the building has now been evacuated. But in the period of time, which is 15 months or thereabouts, we have had hundreds of persons — medical personnel, nursing personnel, ancillary staff — who have reported ill; some with very, very serious complaints,” Phillips said.

He was supported by Opposition spokesman on health Dr Dayton Campbell who said that data show that “over 2,000 visits have been made to the staff clinic”.

“We also see in a report that there are cancer-causing agents that were detected in the building; and so we are of the view that, as the minister of health, having a duty of care to protect both staff and patients, having such report, you should have evacuated the building in a shorter time period. The recommendation came the 28th of February 2017, the argument that you could not have evacuated a building until April 2018, I am quite sure that no one here believes that,” Dr Campbell stated.

“If you are in crisis situation there has to be measures that you put in place to ensure that you protect the health of your workers, and also of your patients, and that is where our issue comes in with the management of the situation, not that the minister caused the problem, but the problem escalated in 2016. It is only one minister that has gotten a report stating that there are toxigens, allergens and carcinogens... cancer-causing agents in the building. Only one minister of health has received that report. No other minister before him got that report. Only one minister of health got a report that you should immediately evacuate this building.”

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