Sun | Jan 17, 2021

18 years waiting - Proposed new law to govern private ­hospitals gathering dust

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2020 | 12:32 AM
Jodian Fearon
Jodian Fearon

DIRECTOR OF standards and regulation in the health ministry, Cynthia Lewis-Graham, disclosed yesterday that proposed legislation to govern private hospitals has been sitting untouched for 18 years gathering dust.

The revelation was made at the select committee of Parliament examining the COVID-19 pandemic now being experienced by the country.

The issue was brought to the fore by a Sunday Gleaner exposé that highlighted that several private hospitals have not been registered under the Nursing Homes Registration Act of 1934. That emerging story was linked to the death of 23-year-old delivering mom Jodian Fearon, who died in an intensive care unit in a tragic saga involving four hospitals.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that the bill would be given priority under his watch.

“The bill started before my time and is still under review, but I have insisted it be given some attention. The truth is, our legislative agenda has not been what I would like it to be.

“I think with all that is happening now, it reinforced the need for us to improve on that,” Tufton said.

The act was amended in 2002 with the intention of increasing the robustness of the registration procedures.

In 2004, it was again amended to review the fees that are charged under the legislation.

The director said that in 2010, the attorney general had given guidance that the private hospitals could be regulated under the act.

However, prior to that, the ministry had been regulating the private facilities through the Health Services Protection and Investigation Division within its jurisdiction.

“There was no legislative framework, to my knowledge, and given the responsibility that we took on in 2020, we decided to develop some tools to manage the regulations and inspection of these private hospitals,” Lewis-Graham said.

It was revealed yesterday that the health ministry has scheduled inspections for nine private hospitals.