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During his participation in the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate, Senator Peter Bunting, who is the Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, expressed his grave concerns about the current state of Jamaica’s public health care system, which he described as being in its worst shape ever.
Bunting went on to say that the state of the public health system is the most rundown it has been in decades.
He pointed out how video clips of hospital patients with drip needles in their arms, lying in passageways and on wooden benches, or sitting up in chairs for days “waiting on a bed to free up” have become commonplace on social media.
Bunting also shared his recent personal experience of visiting a university student who had been taken to Mandeville Regional Hospital and was horrified that, after three days, she was still in the casualty waiting area where conditions appeared similar to the pictures of hospitals we see in Gaza or some other war zone.
The Opposition senator criticized Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton for “engaging” in public relations rather than finding solutions to the problems.
Bunting stated that the Cornwall Regional Hospital renovation has earned the title ‘Mother of all cost overruns’.
The renovation project started with a budget of $2 billion and a timeline of a year, but it has now reached $14 billion and seven years, with both cost and length of time to complete continuing to escalate.
Bunting also noted that there has been no promised expansion at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, and he pointed to “improper meddling and ministerial interference” in the operations of the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Alleging that cronyism is rampant, Bunting said that the one area that the Minister of Health and Wellness is best in class is public relations.
He further mentioned that there may be no budget to maintain the hospital equipment, but billions are always available to be spent creating the image that Minister Tufton – ‘Minister MarketMe’ – is a performer.
Every piece of information communicated from the MOHW is accompanied by the minister’s image delivering or accompanying the message. In that regard, the Minister of Tourism (Edmund Bartlett) runs a close second.