'Unacceptable' - Tufton decries contract overruns at health ministry
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has described as "unacceptable", and a short-changing of patients and taxpayers, the level of contract overruns in time and budget that have been taking place in his ministry.
"When I became minister of health, I was appalled at the number of unfinished contracts that were splintered around the country at various (health) institutions," Tufton said during a recent visit to the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, where a long-overdue sewage plant was commissioned into service.
The health minister said the work on the Noel Holmes Hospital's sewage treatment facility took 15 months over the contracted period, and 12 to 15 per cent over the contracted sum.
"The five sewage treatment facilities cost us beyond the contracted stipulated cost, nearly J$40 million more, and in at least two cases of the five, 15 months over when they were due," Tufton said.
He added that in one case in St Thomas, the contract had to be cancelled because ministry officials felt that what was taking place was not acceptable.
The five health facilities where sewage treatment facilities were being worked on were the Ulster Spring Health Centre in Trelawny; the Percy Junor Hospital, Manchester; Fellowship Health Centre in Portland; the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland; and the Noel Holmes Hospital.
"I am saying to all of us, including myself as minister, that this is not acceptable. It is short-changing the clients, the patients, the taxpayers, and so the way forward requires us to ensure that if we commit, we commit with reasonableness in terms of time and [being] achievable; and that those who are given the responsibility to complete, they must complete," said Tufton.
The minister said he would be insisting that penalties be included in contracts being awarded for contractors to either finish on time or bear the burden of any losses incurred because of them going over the stipulated contract period.