Ministry to reduce 'chronic overcrowding' at hospitals in 2024

Arima General Hospital
Arima General Hospital

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh says he is satisfied with government's budget allocation to the health sector.

His comment came in a brief WhatsApp message to Newsday.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert presented the national budget for fiscal 2023/24 in Parliament on Monday.

In it, the health sector was given $7.409 billion, the second highest allocation of the $59.209 billion spending for the next year. This year's allocation is $517 million more than it received in fiscal 2022/23.

Not going into any further details, Deyalsingh said he will be "speaking at length" on it during the upcoming budget debate.

Meanwhile, documents uploaded to the Ministry of Finance's website last night said the Ministry of Health wants to treat "chronic overcrowding" at hospitals as part of a proposed Hospital Physical Infrastructure Development Strategy. The strategy has been on the agenda since fiscal 2020.

Other plans for the upcoming fiscal year include upgrading medical equipment at regional health authorities in Trinidad and establishing a Disaster Preparedness Coordinating Unit (DPCU).

The state enterprises programme document for the 2023/24 fiscal year on the Ministry of Finance's website said the Hospital Physical Infrastructure Development Strategy is intended to be implemented over a ten-year period to address hospital infrastructure issues.

It said the proposed strategy provides an opportunity to increase the "efficacy and efficiency" of the health services in the following ways:

Maximising the use of specialist services, both clinical and support, between hospitals to increase efficiency

Treating chronic overcrowding at public hospitals

Providing capacity both in terms of infrastructure and organisational development at all public hospitals to have them accredited as teaching hospitals

Developing alternative solutions to hospitalisation, such as increasing same-day surgery, home care services and introducting new forms of diagnostics.

The document also said the Urban Development Company of TT (Udecott) will continue work on the multi-storey car park in San Fernando, the redevelopment of Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH) and construction of the Sangre Grande Hospital.

On the San Fernando car park, the document said while the project was completed and operationalised with an estimated expenditure for April-September 2023 of $12.9 million, an additional $3.5 million will be paid in fiscal 2024 to settle retention fees.

The redevelopment work at POSGH is being implemented in four phases "and includes design, construction and equipping including the supply of furniture, fixtures, equipment (non-medical) and signage internal, external and directional.

The new two-storey building will house central stores, engineering and biomedical departments, with storage rooms and workshops at ground level and offices on the first floor. It will cover approximately 2,030 square metres, including a "circulation area," the document said. The project is estimated to cost $1.27 billion.

The estimated expenditure for April-September 2023 is $425.2 million, and $545.7 million for fiscal 2024. The project is scheduled to be completed in fiscal 2024.

The document said the 106-bed Sangre Grande Hospital is estimated to cost $1.06 billion. It said the estimated expenditure for April-September 2023 is $155.4 million, with an additional $135.2 million to be spent on the project for fiscal 2024. In September, Udecott officials said the hospital is expected to be handed over to the Eastern Regional Health Authority in March 2024.

Additionally, the Social Sector Investment Programme document on the Ministry of Finance's website said the Medical Equipment Upgrade Programme will see new equipment for all regional health authorities (RHAs) in Trinidad.

The North Central RHA will receive 16 ventilators, 32 wall-mounted cardiac monitors for the High Dependency Unit and Adult Intensive Care Unit, one mobile X-ray machine and two echo machines.

The South Western RHA will get replacements for two C-arms for occupational therapy, three blood gas machines, two operating tables and 20 vital-signs monitors.

The North West RHA will receive three X-ray machines, one neonatal resuscitation unit, six haemodialysis machines and five diathermy machines.

The Eastern RHA will receive two portable dialysis machines, two ultrasound machines, 20 patient trolleys, five crash carts and five defibrillators.


"Ministry to reduce ‘chronic overcrowding’ at hospitals in 2024"

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