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Patient’s Charter for health service coming – Minister

Patient’s Charter for health service coming – Minister


Patients using health services here would soon have a Patient’s Charter to outline their rights and responsibilities.

This was disclosed by Minister of Health Luke Browne, during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday.

“…One of the things that we are hoping to have in place very soon is a Patient’s Charter, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of patients and that I think … would be able to guide … all stakeholders on what they should expect from their interactions with the health care system at all times,” Browne stated.

The Minister was responding to an appeal made by Prime Minster Dr Ralph Gonsalves on Monday for there to be better management of the country’s health system, so that all district clinics will have nurses available at all times.

Gonsalves made the appeal after a mother in his constituency, who, on discovering her baby motionless, went to the community clinic on Monday, January 23, only to find no one there.

The Health Minister said he agrees that better needs to be done to strengthen and improve health services wherever possible.

“We are going make sure that there are tight protocol arrangements in place to handle any eventuality, so that we can provide services beyond 4 p.m.”

Browne said clinics should not close at 4 p.m.

The Minister noted that the ideal situation for the Ministry and the Government from a policy standpoint is to have personnel available to discharge their services around the clock.

“To facilitate that, we should have a situation where we have a full staff complement at each clinic; we should have a staff nurse, we should have nursing assistants and we should have community health aides. And, essentially, the staff nurse is also supposed to be resident at the clinic itself,” Browne outlined.

He noted that while nursing quarters are available at all clinics on the mainland and in the Grenadines, some of the quarters are in need of repair. He was, however, optimistic that once repairs are carried out, there would be greater residence of staff nurses at the clinics.

Browne explained that even if the nurses do not occupy the quarters, they are always on call and are expected to respond in emergency situations.

The Minister said following the unfortunate situation in the South Rivers community, which prompted the Prime Minster to make the appeal, he conducted a thorough investigation and intends to host further discussions on the issue going forward.

Browne explained that while the baby’s life may not have been saved even if medical assistance had been given, a nursing assistant should be available on weekends when the staff nurse is on a weekend off.

He said that from his investigation, the nursing assistant had provided medical support for persons during the day on Sunday, January 22.

Browne noted that while there was some measure of contact, it was not as it ought to be in these circumstances.

“I should say that dealing with a baby who may have died, the fittest person in this equation would have been the… district medical officer.”

He also responded to the Prime Minister’s call for there to be guidelines in place to limit the number of nurses on study leave at one period.

Browne said while the Government does not short-change anyone in their pursuit of higher education, there should be a standard practice in the course of management that only a certain number of persons should be on study leave at a certain time.

“We must establish benchmarks as to what is acceptable and consistent with the best discharge of health care services.” (CM)