Opposition concerned about people with NCDs as hospitals go into emergency mode
A file photo showing COVID-19 patients receiving oxygen in a corridor at the University Hospital of the West Indies. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

OPPOSITION spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy says the health conditions of people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will worsen with public hospitals being restricted to deal with only emergency cases.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness on Monday ordered all health facilities to offer only emergency services as of today, as they have been facing immense pressure due to the growing number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases and sick health-care workers.

Guy said while he understands the current crisis, people living with non-communicable diseases will suffer due to the directive as they will not be given the care needed to ensure their health conditions are in check.

“We know that the health sector has been under stress. We have been here before. There is an increased number of persons who are coming down infected, particularly our health staff, and the reality is that we have less of them to care for persons who are coming in with COVID-19,” Guy told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

“It is most unfortunate because what is going to happen now is that all those cases that would normally be seen in clinics for maintaining their conditions are going to be deteriorating to the point where they are going to be ending up in hospital,” he added.

According to Guy, the health sector could see a lot of people with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension seeking serious medical care for stroke or developing other conditions.

“If the overcrowding gets worse, and indeed it will because we haven't peaked yet for this wave, so some persons are just going to be left behind and unfortunately left to die because they cannot access the service,” Guy argued.

On Monday, the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) froze all leave applications and directed health-care workers on non-essential leave to return to work in an effort to help with the fight against the fourth wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting on the issue, Guy said : “I understand that in emergency times we have to rely on emergency measures and it is unfortunate that their leaves had to be frozen but it is something that we, as the nation, are going to ask them to do as part of their further extended services as people of this country.”

He recommended, however, that the Government could offer temporary employment to private doctors to lessen the pressure on medical staff during the fourth wave of the pandemic.

“...Some private doctors ... may want to come in and do sessions in the hospital, especially in the A&E. We are in crisis so we need some crisis decisions right now,” he said.

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Observer staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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