Adopt a clinic - Tufton looking to private sector to reduce rush at hospitals A&E
More than $250 million was spent to redirect patients from the accident and emergency rooms at public hospitals to health centres across the island last year, but Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton admits that people continue to show up at hospitals because the primary health-care sector has lost its credibility.
"In too many instances, we have had poor maintenance, the absence of critical infrastructure, mainly equipment and personnel," said Tufton.
"We believe that if the primary health-care facilities were to function adequately, you could get up to 40 per cent of that load off the Accident and Emergency (A&E) because persons would seek solutions at the primary facility.
"What we have to do now is to ensure that the services that are offered responds to the population's demand or needs, and that the public information is convincing enough to cause people to go to the clinics first, rather than to go directly to the hospital," added Tufton.
Administrators of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) have reported that they are having a serious issue with persons turning up at A&E who did not need to be there.
In the last five years alone, they have seen more than 90,000 of these patients who had to be redirected to community health centres.
But the health minister is optimistic that there will be improvements at primary health care facilities with the launch of the adopt a clinic initiative.
This will see corporations, charities and individuals adopting a clinic to ensure that these facilities are maintained.
According to the minister, he has already received about 30 expressions of interest.
"The UK, for example, has been aggressive on it and they have been making good progress, but also local corporate entities have expressed an interest under this programme to basically take charge of the physical infrastructure and the routine maintenance, so that the clinic functions with greater credibility," he said.
Kingston Public Hospital's A&E challenge
Number of visits Persons who did not need A&E
2013 - 91,318 18,602
2014 - 85,999 21,365
2015 - 90,902 20,210
2016 - 90,303 19,230
2017 - 43,854 10,854*
Year to date.