An opposition party leader is accusing the Cabinet of “grandstanding” and has mocked its claim that 4,000 more people went to the hospital for care last year than in 2014 solely because they have greater faith in the system now than they did back then.
Joanne Massiah of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said she fails to see the correlation which the Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph is attempting to make when he told the Cabinet that, “The increase in the number of patients is credited to knowledge of improved care at the MSJMC and in healthcare, despite the reports of occasionally long waits at the Emergency Room.
More doctors and nurses have been assigned to Emergency Room service since 2014.” While, Government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel Hurst, who yesterday revealed what MinisterJoseph told the Cabinet on Wednesday, said “We know it is not as a result of increased illness, the Antigua and Barbuda population, even though it is aging, is also relatively healthy. You know we live until age 76 on average and we suffer from two major diseases, non-communicable diseases, hypertension and sugar.”
Adding to what Joseph told Cabinet, Hurst later told reporters the increase is actually linked to more people choosing to go to the hospital over the community clinics in their area because they have greater faith in MSJMC.
But Massiah said the officials are grandstanding again when the personal experiences of users of the MSJMC tell a different story. She said it would be interesting to know at what time of day there is a noticeable increase in the number of patients seeking ER care and what services patients are seeking.
Massiah suggested, “The increases in the number of patients being seen may be a result of patients not receiving the required attention at the community clinics because many clinics are not functioning optimally if at all.” The leader of the DNA also pointed out that the majority of community clinics are now not opened at night hence people tend to go to MSJMC to seek medical attention. “I doubt that persons are flocking to MSJMC due to their knowledge that more doctors are on shifts … It begs the question that if there are extra doctors and nurses in the ER then why can’t quick assessments be done on persons who present seeking urgent attention?” she queried as she turned attention to the prolonged period people have to wait for care when they go to the hospital.
She highlighted, “In the case of the young man allegedly beaten with a baseball bat, why couldn’t he be sent for a CT scan to quickly assess his situation to determine the extent of his injuries?” Massiah was referring to the experience of 19-year-old Terry Viville who was sent to the hospital by the police Saturday morning after he reported being robbed and beaten on the head with a baseball bat the night prior.
The young man spent over six hours waiting for care on Saturday and again on Monday, but on each occasion, he was never treated. He only saw a doctor on Wednesday after the police intervened and escorted him to the ER.