New health policy coming
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton has said a public-private partnership policy will be brought before Cabinet next year as part of measures to improve efficiency within the public-health sector.
He made the disclosure during the launch of a project to extend the surgery hours at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), held at the facility in Papine, St Andrew, on Wednesday.
"This will see us looking at those functions within the public-health system that rightfully should be done by someone else, because not everything that we do, we are the best persons to do it," Tufton said.
He added that some functions, such as diagnostics, should be outsourced as the public-health system cannot afford the cost associated with acquiring and maintaining certain types of equipment.
CHRONIC ILLNESS PATIENTS
The Ministry of Health is also looking at patients who have chronic illnesses to make regular visits with a family doctor instead of visiting the outpatient clinic at the hospitals.
"[We would] negotiate an arrangement for that private doctor to manage those patients in order to reduce the stress on the hospital system. The truth is that we have some patients in the system that are monthly visitors, as they need to check their blood pressure, their diabetics, and ensure that they are taking their medication," Tufton said.
"I am pretty sure we can assign those patients to a doctor to give that support with appropriate referrals when the time is necessary and, therefore, free the system up for dealing with some of the other things," he added.
Tufton noted, however, that proper benchmarking of costs will have to be done before such initiatives are implemented.