Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has criticised state-employed doctors who, he says, see a limited number of persons at state facilities and refer the others to their private clinics.
“We have the doctors who are paid by the Government but there are too many occasions, too many complaints I get, and I have spoken about it to successive Ministers of Health, I have spoken to the doctors about this, that they see only a limited number of patients only during the day and then tell poor people, ‘See me at my clinic.’
“’See me at my clinic’ — you have to fork out money to pay. That cannot be fair,” Gonsalves said on Saturday at the opening of the Smart Hospital Project in Georgetown.
“I don’t begrudge doctors their private practice. In order to get some of the specialists, we have to allow the private practice. … and if we have evolved a system of private-public medicine, we have to make sure that it has a balance which does not disadvantage the poor and the working class,” the Prime Minister further stated.
“The same thing has to do with the use of the operating theatre. There are people who tell you they pay the money because the particular doctor will let them jump the queue,” he further stated.
“The last time I made some critical comments in relation to the practice of medicine, I met with an avalanche of criticism from some quarters from the medical profession. I don’t want a fight with the medical profession, that’s the last thing, because the older I get, the weaker I will become and the more I will be relying on them. And I want them gi’ mi good injection and I know they will gi’ mi good injection.
“But the point is this: we have to find a good and effective balance between private and public medicine operating outside of the state facility because some patients, some constituents of mine, some people all over the country complain to me that sometimes they feel that if you get money you can jump the queue to go and do your operation.
“I tell them no. I can’t believe that a doctor go (would) act like that. Never! Because they are dedicated towards healing the sick and they take the Hippocratic oath. I will never believe a thing like that.
“But, if it happens, I am sure that the doctors themselves go like to correct that. But we will have no doubt, the new Medical Director and the Hospital Administrator go work out and say let us get the balance right,” the Prime Minister further stated.