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Fuad moves to standardise private hospital fees

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan has met with the Private Hospitals Association in an attempt to get them to come up with a standardised fee for outsourcing services in an effort to clear medical backlogs at the public hospitals.

Earlier this week Khan said that he was seeking to cut costs of about $400 million that had been paid to private hospitals, nursing homes and other private health care providers since 2009 because national health institutions chose to outsource services to them, by stopping all outsourcing to private hospitals except with the authority of the minister or the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Yesterday Dr Rupert Indar snr, director at the Southern Medical Clinic, told the Express that the Private Hospitals Association met with Khan on Wednesday and what the Minister of Health discussed with them is not in line with what he has been saying about using the services of private institutions less, in an attempt to cut back on millions of dollars that have been spent.

"The present position is that the Minister is fully aware that there is a huge backlog in every category of health service. We had a meeting this week and we are going to give him proposals to assist in giving the services in all the categories.

"So, in fact, from the meeting and what he is going to do more or less contradicts what has been said before so he is looking to us to assist and supply services because of the huge backlog."

Indar said the backlog should take about two years to clear.

"In a about two years time the backlog should be dealt with. You see not only do you have backlog but you will have the current people seeking the various services and there is no doubt about it that even if all the hospitals equipment and staff were working full out, still the demand outstrips the supply."

Indar said there is no way that the current public hospitals can cater to the demands of the public so that people will not have to wait any length of time for specific services.

"Because throughout the country, we have enough to support the Government in all categories and what he is looking for is economical cost which in certain situations have not been entirely in the interest of the Ministry.

So it is going to be done as a joint effort under the Private Hospitals Association. And with that we are going to do everything possible that what we submit would be reasonable.

"We had a meeting with the Minister on Wednesday and we are going to go back to him by the middle of January to supply what we are going to do at the most economical cost, which will represent all the private institutions...so one will not charge different to the other.

"It will be a standard cost. We are optimistic that we are going to help with what the Minister wants," he said.

MPATT president Dr Philip Ayoung-Chee, when asked to comment on the continued plans to outsource medical services, called for the media and the public to be more proactive on issues affecting the health care system.

"I have always objected to the use of private hospitals and have always called for the public health infrastructure to be improved.

"What we are seeing today was predicted since the reign of John Rahael when he was congratulated by the media and public for paying for services in the private sector without any restrictions.

The PNM did it and the People's Partnership continued. The public health care system has now collapsed. If the media and the public are now interested in improved health care, then start a lobby," said Ayoung-Chee.

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