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Member of Parliament for Fyzabad, Dr Lackram Bodoe MP.

The Member of Parliament for Fyzabad, Dr Lackram Bodoe MP, is urging Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) to set up better outpatient care systems, in the wake of long lines of patients recently seen at the outpatient clinics in both the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) and the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA).

In a strongly worded release, the Fyzabad MP points out that the RHAs need to “fundamentally review how they process patients at outpatient clinics”, referring specifically to the situation on Monday April 19th at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital—the subject of a Guardian Media report.

“This incident comes on the heel of similar complaints at the NCRHA outpatient clinics about two months ago.  The large numbers of patients gathered at the entrance of the outpatient department without adequate physical distancing, ironically, puts them and others at risk of contracting and or spreading COVID-19 at a healthcare institution,” Dr Bodoe points out in his statement.

“This is especially worrisome at a time when the health authorities are reporting increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, including the highly transmissible Brazil P1 variant,” he says.

According to the Opposition MP, the hospital management failed to recognise a crisis in the making, as the “block system of appointment, where patients are given specific times to attend the clinics… obviously collapsed yesterday”.

And he argues that this management failure put many lives at risk.

“The failure of management, including hospital security to recognise early the impending crisis meant that the police had to be called in to restore order, putting police officers themselves at risk of catching the virus,” he observes.

The Fyzabad MP also expressed concern that the normal healthcare system is failing many patients, even as the parallel healthcare system is treating with COVID-19 cases.

Noting that many more people will be using the public health care system because of straitened economic circumstances worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Bodoe says RHA management must operate proactively and pre-emptively.

“Some in that crowd yesterday could very well have been those seeking new appointments for postponed surgeries… The system for making new appointments which currently requires the patient or nominee to physically go to the outpatient department to secure an appointment can be improved with the use of technology for virtual interviews,” he argues.

Dr Bodoe is calling on the Minister of Health to hold the SWRHA CEO accountable for yesterday’s chaos in the outpatient clinics.

And in addition to guaranteeing hospital staff and medical professionals the resources they need to provide quality service at the institutions, the Opposition MP asserts that the health minister must ensure the swift appointment of a new SWRHA Board of Directors, to guide policy implementation.