A number of logistical issues are getting in the way of Government’s plan to switch to a 24-hour service at two of the island’s polyclinics in order to ease the burden on the Accident and Emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), according to Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic.
Therefore, Bostic said today, the Mia Mottley administration could not commit to a definite timeline for the round-the-clock service at the Randal Phillips and Sir Winston Scott polyclinics, announced in Mottley’s mini Budget last month.
“The response from the public to the idea has been going quite well, but we have not actually started that exercise as yet. We are in the process of doing so because some work has to be done. So, for example, there is going to be requirements for additional human resources,” Bostic said in response to questions from Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the opening of the Pan American Health Organization’s regional training programme for trainers, on mental health and psychosocial support in disaster management.
The minister also said talks between Government and the trade unions on the change were also pending, making it even more difficult to pinpoint a start date.
“We cannot give a time frame until we are able to meet with the unions because they are going to play an important role in this regard,” he said.
“We also have to meet with the Personnel Administration Division because the Ministry of the Civil Service would have to provide some additional resources in order for us to run a 24-hour service at those two polyclinics,” Bostic stressed, adding that both medical facilities needed to be upgraded before the transition to 24-hour service.
“It is not only extended hours but an expansion of services in that the two polyclinics have to be able to provide dispensing, diagnostic services and radiology services. So we have to get all of those things in place to make the exercise worthwhile. Remember the intention is to cover for 25 per cent of the persons who now go to the QEH that are not urgent care. So in order to make the numbers going to the Accident and Emergency, we have to provide some facilities,” he pointed out.
The switch is expected to cost taxpayers an additional $3 million, Mottley said when she announced the plans.