Opposition Spokesman on Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy has painted a horrifying picture of the local health sector while blasting the Government for presenting a much rosier picture of a system in urgent need of overhaul.
Guy levelled his criticisms on Tuesday as he made his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
He argued that the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the earlier Dengue epidemic “have shown how precarious Jamaica’s health system is and no matter how much whitewashing of the system those in power would have us to believe, the naked truth is very evident and revealing”.
Continuing, Guy said: “The use of social media to show how excellent the system is has not worked. Social media is a two-edged sword and the narrative of the excellent system has not worked because the ordinary man, most often the poor, will tell you his story, a different story”.
“He will tell you of the long waits and the agonising pain he suffers trying to access care at any of the hospitals in Jamaica. He will tell you of the indignity and lack of compassion shown to the 100+-year-old Jamaican who turned up at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in pain and yet was not seen with any urgency, languishing in the A&E until a call was made to someone in authority.
“The mother will tell you of the long waits at Bustamante Children’s Hospital for attention to and treatment of their sick child and infant, or the mothers will tell you that they were not able to take their babies home because they lost their babies during the outbreak of perinatal infections at the VJH (Victoria Jubilee Hospital) Nursery in the summer of last year,” Guy added.
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Guy also highlighted a case where he said accident victims turned up at the Alexandria Hospital in St Ann at 6:00 am, but no doctor or nurse was present to attend to them.
“And despite two ambulances on site, no driver (was there) to take them to another hospital to access treatment,” he shared.
According to Guy, “The ordinary man will also tell you of the crowded conditions that he experiences on the wards of both the Kingston Public Hospital and the Spanish Town Hospital, to name a few. He will tell you of the difficulty in getting a bed, or the fact that he has to lie on a mattress or a piece of sponge on the floor whilst he is being treated with an IV drip in his hand”.
The Opposition spokesman argued that it is true that “in any and every hospital you go to across this country, there is more than the usual number of horror stories to demonstrate and confirm the ailing state of our health sector. Infact, the ministry, in a publication entitled ‘Human Resources for Health: Clinicians Workforce’ tabled in House on May 3, 2023, showed horrifying data”.
Guy said that buried in the introduction of this document is this statement “a cursory review of a number of clients waiting in emergency rooms for beds show that an average of 300-500 patients may be found waiting across the island for beds daily and this is mostly in the larger hospitals”.