Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Letter of the Day | Tufton's ignorance of Sav Hospital crisis inexcusable

Published:Friday | August 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Why was Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton in the dark regarding the bed-space crisis at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital?

It was quite disturbing when TVJ first highlighted the severe shortage of bed spaces at the Sav-la-Mar Hospital, which was adversely affecting healthcare there. But even far more disturbing was the follow-up coverage last Tuesday evening,in which a TVJ reporter related that Health Minister Dr Tufton admitted that he only became aware of the crisis when it was highlighted on TV. Wow! Absolutely amazing!

If TVJ's report is correct that Dr Tufton made that admission and we accept the health minister's word, this would be a communication crisis of grave concern regarding healthcare management and delivery in our public institutions.

Who was responsible for officially informing the health minister? Did those responsible not consider this matter (which was literally threatening people's lives) to be of paramount importance for the minister to be officially informed? Was it from sheer frustration that the media were notified?

Dr Alfred Dawes, senior medical officer at the hospital, via media, had been highlighting this situation for the past few months, which was exacerbated by the scaling down of activities at the Cornwall Regional Hospital. But the minister was not aware.

I will concede that a minister should not have to rely on the media to be informed of critical matters in his ministry. Did Dr Dawes (who seems to have mastered the art of highlighting challenges in the health sector) report this crisis to the Western Regional Health Authority, and where did the breakdown in communication occur?

What other critical problems affecting hospitals is the minister of health not aware of? It was not unreasonable to expect the situation at the Cornwall Regional Hospital would place additional pressure on nearby institutions and hence, basic and prudent healthcare management would have implemented closer monitoring of activities and timely interventions at the nearby hospitals in Falmouth and Sav-la-Mar.

Dr Tufton may have been extremely busy, but given the aforementioned, we cannot excuse his lack of awareness.