Tufton wants accountability in caring for ambulances
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton checks out one of four new ambulances provided to the Western Regional Health Authority on Friday.

MOUNT SALEM, St James — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has put administrators on notice that they will be required to report those responsible for damage done to State-provided ambulances because of indiscipline on the roads.

He likened the need to hold others accountable to the firestorm of criticism he faced down late last year over shoddy conditions at some public hospitals.

His comments came on Friday during a handover of four new ambulances to the Western Regional Health Authority. Noting that he is sometimes sent videos of vehicles in the health sector being driven in a reckless manner, Tufton appealed to drivers not to be a part of the indiscipline seen on the country's roads.

Victor Williams, ambulance driver and trained emergency medical technician (Photos: Anthony Lewis)

"I want to encourage the people who are in charge of these [ambulances]. In fact, I have asked the team that whenever there is an incident, we need a report. We normally get a report, obviously, but we need a report that extends down to who is liable, who is responsible, and we have to hold those who are charged with the responsibility accountable," the minister insisted.

"I make no bones about that. I have been accused of every wrong in public health, that I must fix it. All toilets they want me to manoeuvre and make sure that they are clean. I am not saying that the buck doesn't stop with me, ultimately. But we have management to manage, and the people who must manage must manage and the man who drives the ambulance must drive it with a certain level of fiduciary responsibility. And you must protect it as your own and as a property that's going to enable you to do your job. And I don't want it to be done any other way, right? So I expect that next year this time they will still be there and functional and working," he added.

The Toyota vehicles, which were purchased by the Government of Jamaica, will be added to the current fleet of 18 in the region that spans Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.

Four new ambulances, valued at $12 million each, which were provided to the Western Regional Health Authority on Friday.

A total of 30 are ideally needed to serve the region, which has four public hospitals and approximately 84 clinics under its watch. The minister said more vehicles will be provided within the 2023-2024 financial year.

According to Tufton, one ambulance was taken out of commission last year and there are currently 14 left to be written off because they are old.

"I want to challenge our board… to be a little more efficient because if we need to get rid of them, we need to get rid of them and bring back the resources in this system," he said of the ambulances.

He added, "Sometimes things take too long to come to conclusion, and I am criticising myself, but I'm doing it anyway because it causes us to reflect as policymakers".

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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