Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Custos calls for change of policy towards charitable gifts

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMBryan Miller

Western Bureau:

Hanover's Custos, Dr David Stair, has joined the London-based United Kingdom (UK) Chapter of Friends of the Noel Holmes Hospital and Westheaven Children's Home in heaping criticism on the Government for its policy towards charitable gifts from overseas organisations and individuals.

"I think we need to do something about facilitating donations. It seems to be getting worse every year because I have been associated with others (charitable organisations) who have tried and have given up," said Stair in responding to the recent challenges faced by the UK charity group in bringing in items for the Lucea-based hospital. "Better can be done (locally) to facilitate much-needed gifts like the ambulance, which can save many lives."

Gloria Leslie, who heads the UK-based organisation, did not mince words while handing over an ambulance to the Noel Holmes Hospital. She said that if she was a weak-hearted person, the vehicle would have been returned to the UK because of the amount of red tape and bureaucracy her organisation had to overcome to make the donation.

"It has been a long, exhausting road in donating this ambulance, but although there were many obstacles and challenges, we now have a positive outcome," Leslie said, while speaking at the recent handover ceremony at the hospital.

According to Leslie, one of the main contributors to the purchase of the £40,000 vehicles, who wanted to witness its donation, died before all the challenges and obstacles posed by the Jamaican authorities had been overcome.

"The charity is proud of this donation, but we are asking the Jamaica Ministry of Health to be more specific and respectful in its dealings with ours and other charities that choose to make further donations to the development of the health services in this beautiful Jamaica," said Leslie. "The Ministry of Health needs to change its approach to how gifts from abroad to the Jamaican health services are dealt with, and it needs to be more supportive of the gestures."

The Gleaner was told that the vehicle was on the wharf in Jamaica for more than a year, while discussions were taking place as to whether duties should be charged before it was released to the health services in Jamaica.