Doc­tors bleed State

Au­di­tor gen­eral urged to probe med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who abuse pub­lic re­sources

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Re­porter

MEM­BER OF Par­lia­ment (MP) for St An­drew West Ru­ral, Juliet Hol­ness, is calling for Au­di­tor Gen­eral Pamela Mon­roe El­lis to a probe al­le­ga­tions that some med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers are bleed­ing the re­sources in the pub­lic health sec­tor to care for their pri­vate pa­tients with­out pay­ing the Gov­ern­ment for us­ing the fa­cil­i­ties.

An ap­par­ently an­noyed Hol­ness told mem­bers of Par­lia­ment’s hard-hit­ting Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee (PAC) that some doc­tors are us­ing the­atres and other fa­cil­i­ties in hos­pi­tals at the ex­pense of the state.

“I have been re­peat­edly told that there are many pri­vate prac­ti­tion­ers who work in their pri­vate fa­cil­ity and also work in the hos­pi­tals and their pri­vate pa­tients are walked through the sys­tem at a cost to the Gov­ern­ment, at a cost to the pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als who don’t re­alise that their doc­tor is us­ing the Gov­ern­ment fa­cil­ity and col­lect­ing for it,” she de­clared.

EX­TENT OF SUF­FER­ING

The PAC had in­vited the ex­ec­u­tive team from the Na­tional Pub­lic Health Lab­o­ra­tory, as well as se­nior mem­bers of the par­ent min­istry, to ad­dress con­cerns raised by Mon­roe El­lis, who con­ducted a per­for­mance au­dit in De­cem­ber 2015 into the agency and found the lab­o­ra­tory want­ing in many ar­eas of its op­er­a­tions.

“Is there any mech­a­nism we could use to de­ter­mine the ex­tent to which our health care sys­tem is suf­fer­ing and bleed­ing be­cause there are un­scrupu­lous in­di­vid­u­als who are prof­it­ing at the ex­pense of the State?” the MP ques­tioned.

The St An­drew West Ru­ral MP in­sisted that if the sys­tem con­tin­ues to suf­fer abuse from those who work in it, the level of re­sources be­ing pumped into the health sec­tor will not have the de­sired im­pact.

“If we are in a po­si­tion where there is a chronic case of bleed­ing the sys­tem in that way, and we are not able to quan­tify what is the im­pact, it means that that could po­ten­tially be one of the big-ticket items that have re­sulted in us not be­ing able to of­fer the qual­ity health care that we need to for those who are most vul­ner­a­ble and least able to af­ford it,” she as­serted.

Re­spond­ing to the call, the au­di­tor gen­eral sug­gested that the PAC send a for­mal re­quest to her de­part­ment on the probe, which she said could take the form of a spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dr Peter Phillips urged Hol­ness to pre­pare a draft of the terms of ref­er­ence of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that she wanted the au­di­tor gen­eral to con­duct so that the com­mit­tee could con­sider the mat­ter.

Asked to com­ment on the con­cerns raised by Hol­ness, chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer in the Min­istry of Health, Dr Win­ston De La Haye, said there were clear reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the man­age­ment of pri­vate pa­tients as op­posed to pub­lic pa­tients. See full story on­line

HOL­NESS

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