Letters & Opinion

Three Sides to Every Story

By Ulric W. Price
Image of The new Owen King - EU Hospital

THE ongoing discussions in regard to the privatization of health care is understandably of great concern to many St. Lucians.

The chaos and misunderstanding thus far have been accentuated by individuals who have not taken the time to carefully listen nor analyze the thinking of the current administration.

For far too long, we have had politicians who had the ability to shroud every thought in secrecy, unlike the current administration which exhibits their intentions without fear.

We shall not delve into the number of issues shrouded in secrecy over the years as they are too numerous to mention.

St. Lucians should recall that over the last 20 years our health situation has gone from bad to worse, despite all the promises and forecasts of better days.

Based on the fact that all these forecasts failed to manifest themselves there must have been reasons and we shall now attempt to highlight some of the causes.

The byproduct of our failure and failing health care is primarily insufficient funding and most politicians and health care institutions are aware of the situation but continue to call on government to create the impossible.

Under the SLP administration of 2011-2016, Dr. King highlighted on more than one occasion that it would take an additional $100 million annually, making a grand total of $220 million annually to simply stabilize our health care and therein lies the road block – CLEAR AND SIMPLE.

The current administration inherited an ongoing cancer and a remedy must be found. The idea of privatization is an option which needs to be explored. Once a formula has been reached there will be dialogue with the parties concerned, but the premature interaction with the CSA and Dental and Medical Association appear to all be chiming in one voice to politicize an extremely sensitive institution.

For the last 20 years, the poor state of our health service existed, so where were those voices then? FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

The mismanagement at all our health facilities needs attention. The disappearance of medicines, groceries, linen and the noticeable neglect and poor maintenance all contribute to a failed system.

What advantages do we benefit from under the current system other than the ability to complain freely based on poor and inadequate service? Are St. Lucians aware that the electricity consumption at the OK EU hospital for the past 30 months despite its closure stands at $200,000.00 per month, therefore, for 30 months government has forked out $6million in electricity?

Consider for a moment when the facility is opened that the electricity cost will spiral (146 maintenance workers are required), then comes the cost of nurses and doctors in addition to the cost of servicing all the installed equipment, which incidentally have surpassed all their warranties making the facility now responsible for any possible breakdowns. This is an enormous unforeseen expenditure.

On the other hand, there are 9,500 civil servants to be paid monthly, so where do our priorities lie? Did the current SLP leader not advocate that the Hewanorra International Airport should be constructed on a PPP (Private Partnership Program)? Is it not preferable to privatize a bleeding institution on a Private Partnership Program versus a profitable institution, simply because the profits from Hewanorra Airport can be utilized to offset other ongoing expenses?

In life there are three sides to every story – (HIS, HERS AND THE TRUTH).

The first side of this story is that the former administrations were not able to offer a reasonable health care service. The second side of the story is the fact that the nation’s economy failed to provide the necessary funding. The third side of the story determines that financing and improved management is paramount.

Hopefully our readers will get a better picture of the real situation facing the health care sector on island.

The plan this government visualizes is that the savings on the $220 million annual budget can now be utilized to buy an adequate health care insurance which would automatically take care of the poor and underprivileged at no expense what so ever and most of the services offered abroad will now be available at home based on the professionalism of the industry.

The agitators who have failed us over the years need to understand that procrastination and politics should no longer remain on their hidden agendas.

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