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TTMA: Our reply to the Minister of Heath’s intended actions as of May 1st

The T&TMA notes the comments made by the Honorable Minister of Health at a press conference held earlier today, where he outlined new regulations to be implemented as of May 1st, 2015.

We applaud the changes already implemented by the Ministry, especially those related to the security of health care providers in our public hospitals. Recent attacks on staff members in car-parks, Labour ward and A&E departments were unacceptable, and we commend the Ministry and the RHA’s for their prompt and practical actions. We also welcome the idea of increased police patrols and personal panic buttons for staff members.

The Association is concerned however with some of the other major changes Dr. Khan hopes to implement. Our rationale and alternative recommendations are outlined below each point as follows:

• Inclusion of additional visiting hours between 7:00 and 9.30am in all public hospitals.
We recommend instead limited visitation at this time with restriction to one family member at the bedside only.

• Allowing a patient representative to stay 24/7 with their loved one:
Our primary focus is and always must be the ill charges in our care. We hope that the Honorable Minister will instead concentrate resources immediately to alleviate the recurrent bed crisis in public health care facilities as a primary objective.

• Invitation of fathers to be in attendance in Labour wards.
Until more private birthing facilities are a reality in our institutions, we recommend in the interim allowing another female relative to be in attendance with their loved one on Labour Ward – a mother/sister etc.

• Use of hand held recording devices freely on the wards.
As members of the Medical Fraternity, we use this opportunity to reiterate collectively our condolences to the many families who have lost a child or mother as recently highlighted by the press in our maternity wards. We feel that some of these measures announced by the Minister reflect his frustration at apparent inefficiencies of the system, inefficiencies that we have long been and continue to do our best to work around on a daily basis. We join with him in wanting to effect positive change to decrease the national peri-natal maternal and infant mortality rate. Unfortunately, we feel that none of the measures outlined above will achieve the ends that we all desire.

We call on the Ministry to open meaningful discourse with the Gynaecological and Obstetric Society of T&T, the Paediatric Society of T&T, the Midwives Association, the UWI and Nursing Council as well as other stake holders in order to take into account the recommendations of the Gafoor report of 2007. It has been eight years since the report was published, and unfortunately, we are yet to see any changes instituted in the health care sector from this comprehensive analysis.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr A Trinidade
PRO
T&TMA