Health Facilities Licensing Bill to be revisted

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The persistence of a grieving family, demanding that the authorities institute a disciplinary committee to deal with negligent members of the medical fraternity, has prompted the government to take a second look at proposed legislation,, which was withdrawn the first time it was tabled in Parliament and was reportedly rejected by medical practitioners a few months ago.
This is according to Health Minister Molwyn Joseph, who on Tuesday appealed to Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin to revisit the Health Facilities Licensing Bill.
The minister explained that the bill speaks to the establishment of proper operating standards for private doctors, and privately operated nursing homes. He said when the bill was introduced a few months ago, members of the medical fraternity ‘pounced’ upon it and he was also the subject of many negative debates.
“Sadly, the government pulled back that bill and hence we are in a state of affairs in Antigua and Barbuda where there are no standards for private clinics. There are no standards for nursing homes and I stand here very much disappointed that the general public and specifically members of the medical fraternity did not embrace the opportunity to have standards established in these institutions.
“They fought it. Well, reality is at our doors right now. Should these private institutions have the necessary facilities in place, it would not be necessary for them to have to come to the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre when they have their patients. The reason why they come to the hospital is because they do not have certain facilities in place for aftercare,” Joseph said.
The matter surrounding the call for the establishment of a Disciplinary Committee as mandated by the Medical Practitioners Act of 2009 and the proper operating standards for private clinics come in the wake of a widely-supported petition by the family members of the late Esme Stevens who died on September 11 at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre, three days after undergoing a colonoscopy at a private medical facility. 
She was reportedly complaining of pain but the private medical doctor allegedly dismissed it as gas and bloating-pain, which would pass once she continued using the prescribed post-procedure medication. Acting on the advice of the doctor, the family took her to the hospital on September 11 after the pain became unbearable to the point that she could not walk.
According to the family, it allegedly took the doctor two hours to see Stevens and another eight hours before she was taken into the theatre for an emergency surgery and shortly afterwards “she was declared dead”.
They subsequently launched the petition to get the disciplinary committee in place to handle a complaint of this nature. On Tuesday, the health minister stated that the ministry will move ahead to establish the committee and that he will also be presenting a full report about the handling of Steven’s case to the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda.

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