SECTORAL DEDATE | ‘Shame on you’… gov’t to go after Jamaicans who abandon relatives at hospitals
Jerome Reynolds, Assistant Editor-Online
Jamaicans who abandon their relatives at public hospital may soon face legal action from the State.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, speaking in the Sectoral Debate in parliament this afternoon, disclosed that this is among measures to be pursued to address the problem of social cases at hospitals.
Tufton announced that the Wellness portfolio was added to the ministry by the Prime Minister.
Tufton said many of these patients are in good health and are taking up critical bed space.
He explained that one social case can prevent occupancy by at least 49 patients in any one year.
Currently, there are 197 social cases in hospitals islandwide, amounting to some 9,653 Jamaicans being unable to access in-patient care annually, the health and wellness minister outlined.
He said the government will be moving to hold family members accountable to take care of their relatives.
“In many instances, these social cases have assets, such as houses and other property that are being used by these relatives, and when they pass on, they show up at the hospital asking for the death certificate to claim these assets.
“This is despite having left them for the State to take care of them while they were alive. I say shame on you for this insensitive act,” Tufton said.
The health and wellness minister said that this year his ministry will move to investigate social cases who are occupying needed beds to determine the capacity of their next of kin to care for them.
“Where necessary, we will also take court action to compel those persons to assume responsibility for their family members.
“Where these social cases are assessed as infirm, we will transfer them to an appropriate facility, either in the public sector, or through some other mechanism that we will agree on and arrange with the Ministry of Local Government, Municipal Corporations, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.”