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(SNO) — The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has said that health care in Saint Lucia has worsened in recent times and is accusing the Allen Chastanet-led government of not paying attention to the health needs of residents.
In a statement delivered today (Nov. 14) by Moses Jn Baptiste, Vieux Fort North MP, SLP chairman and SLP spokesman for health, fisheries, food production and agriculture, the party said it has been informed of a number of matter concerning the health system on the island.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party has observed with trepidation that recently the crisis in healthcare in Saint Lucia has worsened,” Jno Baptiste said. “On Sunday 11 November, even more physical evidence of worsening conditions at the Victoria Hospital and the St. Jude Hospital has surfaced. The stated intentions of the government for the St. Jude Hospital in the short to medium term is nothing more than ‘madness’ and needs immediate clarification.”
He stated that while the crisis deepens, the commissioning of the OKEU Hospital is showing little progress and being conducted under what he described as “a cloud of secrecy”.
According to Jno Baptiste, the SLP has been informed of a number of matters concerning health care on the island.
He listed them as follows:
1. Medical Services being offered to patients at the Victoria Hospital continue to be affected by inadequate supplies and deteriorating conditions at the hospital. Patients are being admitted but kept in the emergency unit because of insufficient beds, and in some case having to remain seated in the unit for days. Medical and ancillary members of staff at the Victoria Hospital are growing increasingly anxious with the slow transfer from the Victoria Hospital to the Owen King EU hospital.
Additionally, the reported plans by the government to privatize the OKEU Hospital in addition to the uncertainty of the jobs of nurses have created even more confusion and an acceleration of public anxiety about the worsening healthcare situation. Visible proof of falling ceilings and structures within the wards, in particular the maternity ward of the Victoria Hospital, has caused the public of Saint Lucia increased disquiet and fear.
2. It is now two and a half years since work on the St. Jude Hospital project was brought to a halt by the UWP Government, with no good reason provided by the government. The advice of experts has been set aside and instead government Ministers continue to make uninformed proposals about the future of the hospital. The UWP administration adamantly refuses to consider completing the East Wing of the St. Jude Hospital and transfer the patients of the hospital to that structure, which by many professional accounts can accommodate the staff and patients who are at the George Odlum Stadium.
3. The UWP administration has decided that the original St. Jude Hospital structure will be handed over to a foreign private company to be operated for profit.
4. The Prime Minister has stated that he and his Cabinet are considering the construction of a “field hospital” to house the patients and staff from the George Odlum Stadium. According to “google” a field hospital is defined as “a temporary hospital set up near a combat zone to provide emergency care for the wounded.” Why would a government consider such a hare-brain idea, and the attendant cost, when they have been advised by experts that the East Wing of the existing St. Jude complex if completed can accommodate the patients and staff, now housed at the Odlum Stadium?
Are there special benefits for members of government and their friends? Is this what Saint Lucians deserve? Only Allen Chastanet and his Cabinet of collaborators would even consider such absurdity? This idea of building a field hospital to accommodate the St. Jude Hospital has to be rejected with all the contempt that it deserves.
5. Further confusion has been added by the Prime Minister when he revealed that there is also active consideration being given to transferring the patients from the George Odlum National Stadium to the Victoria Hospital.
Jno Baptiste said the government has dug a hole for itself by the senseless stoppage of the St. Jude Hospital Project for the past two and half years.
“So now it is scrambling from one irrational proposal to another absurd proposal,” he stated. “This all demonstrates how clueless is this government in managing the country’s health sector and the business of the country in general.”
He went on to say that the current health care in Saint Lucia affects everyone including health professionals, public servants, business owners, politicians, clergy and their followers.
“We all are affected by the deteriorating health conditions in our country,” he said. “Is the UWP administration waiting for further disaster? Does the prime minister care about the health of Saint Lucians?”
Jno Baptiste stated further that while the UWP administration has put work at St. Jude on hold and bungling the commissioning of the OKEU hospital, it is however spending millions on roads for a racetrack which belongs to a foreign investor who has reduced the prime minister to a puppet.
“Millions more have been wasted in tax waivers and more recently millions to be paid as a result of the mismanagement of the Range Hotel project. Our hospitals and healthcare do not seem to be a priority for this government,” he remarked. “It is clear that the UWP administration and the UWP Cabinet, continues to disregard with callous contempt the constant calls by the people of Saint Lucia to give more priority to healthcare concerns.”
He said the SLP is calling on the “government to urgently return to the commissioning process which would transfer services from the Victoria Hospital to the modern OKEU which has modern equipment and to update the people of Saint Lucia on the status of the commissioning exercise”.
“The government is also called upon to respond to the constant calls by the people to pay attention to the worsening conditions at the St. Jude Hospital and to continue work on the East Wing so as to remove patients and staff from the George Odlum Stadium which has been deemed as unfit to carry on as a hospital by the government’s own health and safety experts,” Jno Baptiste said. “The people of Saint Lucia cannot be allowed to continue suffering and dying while Allen Chastanet refuses to pay attention to their health concerns.”