...Give proposed system a chance, Fuad tells PSA
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is calling on the Public Services Association to have reasoning with regard to the public/private partnership (PPP) expression of interest, saying that if nothing is done, "20 years down the road the system is going to be worse".
"We are inundated with issues of delivery of service or a lack thereof on a daily basis...do you think I am happy with that, a patient might be on a ward for a whole week and the only thing keeping them there is because we can't find an orderly to take them down for an X-ray or to perform any number of tests," he said.
"What are we to do, should we continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result or should we embrace new ideas and not-so-new ideas that would in the long term empower the patients to expect and receive a certain level of service, empower workers to expand their earning capacity and training and empower management to deliver," he said.
Khan added that although they withdrew the PPP expression of interest, they were hopeful that they would be able to bring it back with changes. However, he said there was never going to be any loss of jobs, or handing over the hospital to the private sector.
"We are paying a lot of money for maintenance services in the system, we pay a lot of money and when Amery Browne, the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, in his budget debate indicated to us that the toilets are not clean, we have to ask ourselves, are these the same workers that we have been paying to clean not cleaning?" he said.
Furthermore, he was hopeful the PSA would be "brave enough" to organise their employees into a company and step up and apply for the contract.
"With this system of Public Private Partnership, the workers themselves inside, they are responsible for cleaning the facilities and maintaining it and if they don't clean it in a proper manner it will be to their detriment or if they do it in a proper manner, they will be able to bypass the wages authority system which caps off employees' salary and we will get production efficiently and even 24-hour service because they will be responsible for such," he said.
Meanwhile, Khan said he was "holding talks" with Finance Minister Larry Howai to determine whether the new hospitals coming on stream can be accommodated into the public health sector with the current system or brought in under a public/private partnership.
"Because it seems to be the most efficient way to develop health care (in Trinidad and Tobago)," he said.