New health minister plugs patient rights

Stabroek News
April 19, 2001

New Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy yesterday launched his strategy of field visits with managers to plug "patient rights" when he toured the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

While there, Dr Ramsammy visited a patient who is waiting to conclude surgery to his trachea.

Two-year-old Ravindra Bajnauth from Berbice was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in Georgetown over two months ago because of a fused vocal chord.

However, Dr Ramsammy told this newspaper that the child will have to undergo a further surgical procedure to his vocal chord after some new equipment from abroad arrives in a day or two.

His parents who could not afford the cost of transportation to and from the hospital decided to leave Ravindra in the care of the ICU staff who have endeared themselves to them.

Apart from the ICU, Dr Ramsammy took the opportunity to visit the staff in other units, including central sterile supplies and the blood bank, in his new official capacity as minister.

Dr Ramsammy, a microbiologist, also used the visit to send a strong message to the GPHC directors and managers, among them Executive Director Dr Michael Khan who was present, that they have to change their management tactics to focus on "patient rights".

It was a modified concept from the original expression "consumerism" used "loosely" by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to mean "patient rights" and "patient empowerment", Dr Ramsammy explained, adding that there is "a greater urgency" for the focus here.

To demonstrate his point, Dr Ramsammy pointed out that every year the hospital registers about 500,000 visits. Over the last two years or so, he noted, there were about two or three deaths which were "preventable".

The mortality rate for preventable diseases, Dr Ramsammy said will have to be stringently reduced.

He said he plans to visit all the health facilities in the country, but in the company of managers, as the task is best accomplished by management through 'walkabouts'.

He stressed the need for hospitals to foster relations among themselves since in that way they "can share best practices".

Meanwhile, he announced that the two caesium units for the cancer centre will be arriving in about three weeks.

Plans have been put in train for a cobalt machine to complete the cancer treatment regimen as well as for an oncologist which the Cuban government, this newspaper understands, would like to lend.

Welcoming the gesture, Dr Ramsammy said the difficulty with this, however, is that the arrangement needs to be permanent.

Dr Ramsammy, earlier this week, visited a number of public health institutions around the city.

On Friday he is expected to leave for Berbice on another round of implementing his strategy of being "out in the fields" with the managers.