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LETTER OF THE DAY: Scrap 'free' health care policy now

Published:Saturday | April 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

Please publish as an open letter to the prime minister.


Dear Prime Minister,

I write this letter at the Kingston Public Hospital, having attended a high-level conference on why Gary Buchanan had to die.

You should remember him; he was that youngster whom you visited at the Nation Chest Hospital and for whom you showed empathy and understanding that can never be denied. It is reported that you instructed that whatever was required should be done to save his life.

Now the truth is, the present health policy has so overwhelmed the system that it is about to collapse. Gary was in hospital for three weeks before he could not be even given a space on the MRI machine, to x-ray his hand. In that period of time the cancerous lump literally grew before the eyes of everyone (and this may have been the period of metastatic growth) but that is not all, the doctors could not wait on the pre-operative chemotherapy prior to surgery for there was no space in that programme either, so he had to have his amputation.

The chance taken failed - so he died without knowing that under other circumstances he probably would be alive today. This tragedy is made more poignant by your good and gracious kindness.

This letter is also about that poor patient who died at my office recently. He had attended the Sunrise Health Centre for three consecutive days only they never reached his number, and when he was brought over in his final collapse nothing could be done. He died waiting to see the 'benefits of your new policy'.

Ill thought-out policy

Many doctors are agreed. You have succeeded in destroying the medical industry and by your ill thought-out policy have laid the foundation for the total collapse of the entire medical sector. Young doctors will never go into private practice. Those in Government service cannot resign, for if they do it can only be to go abroad, abandoning their homeland.

Indeed, an irony of the situation is that the posts that are left vacant cannot be filled because of financial constraints. I cannot believe that Dr Kenneth Baugh, deputy prime minister, and Dr Horace Chang, minister of housing, do not know what is going on.

I appeal to you on the lives of those who have died, those who may yet die and those whose deaths can be prevented - revisit the policy now. History will judge you harshly if you don't.

I am, etc.,

Dr JEPHTHAH FORD

jephthahford@hotmail.com

Kingston 19