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No hospital for Negril at this time, says Tufton

Published:Friday | September 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says he does not support views that a hospital is needed in Negril, Westmoreland, currently. He says residents should, instead, be more socially responsible to reduce accidents and violence.

"This is where we have our priorities wrong. What really needs to be done is for people to stop riding bikes without helmets and doing stunts, not to mention the trauma from violence and so on," said Tufton in an interview with The Gleaner, following the official opening of a new accident and emergency unit and a groundbreaking ceremony for a new radiology unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, St James.

The issue of motor vehicle accidents, particularly those involving motorcycles, has been a long-standing problem

in Westmoreland, resulting in

the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department being overwhelmed with injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes. Rising crime in Westmoreland is also taxing the hospital's resources.

However, in addressing the issue, Tufton said that a culture shift is needed to deal with the problem in Negril, and not a new medical facility.

"We have a societal problem, and we will never be able to build enough hospital beds to solve those problems. So the first order of business is to encourage and enforce the rules to reduce those cases that require you to build a facility to deal with them," said Tufton.

"Having said that, there is a health centre in Negril, which we examined recently, and I know funds are being raised in conjunction with the National Health Fund to renovate it and make it into a more comprehensive facility," he added.

Tufton also used the opportunity to praise the operations at the Noel Holmes Hospital in Lucea, Hanover, which was upgraded last October.

"Noel Holmes is actually a nice little hospital, not a big hospital, but well set up. We commissioned the sewage-recycling system, upgraded the male ward and the customer service area, and we also did a minor operating theatre," said Tufton.