JIS News

Government will supplement the projected $100 million shortfall in revenue at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, in the wake of the abolition of user fees in public health facilities for children up to 18 years old.
The hospital, which is the only one of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, catering exclusively to children age 12 and under, is expected to be most affected by the implementation of the new policy, which takes effect on May 28.
“That shortfall has been budgeted by the government of Jamaica and will be provided to the hospital for them to carry out their work and keep up the high standard of service that they offer,” said Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, at a press briefing held at the Hilton Kingston hotel yesterday (May 24).
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Beverley Needham, said the $100 million figure is based on the amount of money the institution collected last year. “In essence, what that is saying is that it is not that we are going to be losing per se, we collected $96 million in the last financial year and therefore what it means is that we will get an allocation each month to take care of that gap,” she pointed out.
The next three months, the CEO said, will be a critical period in assessing the additional strain on the system. “At that point in time, we will make further recommendations,” she said.
As for the projected shortfall for the rest of the island’s health facilities, Minister Dalley informed that the figure ranged between $350 million and $500 million. “Some hospitals now have better data regarding (visits by minors) and also the health centres have better information, so we are very comfortable that we are able to finance this policy decision,” he informed, while dismissing concerns of an increase in hospital fees for those who do not qualify for the new policy.
The Minister indicated that all health facilities will be reimbursed for revenue foregone in implementing the new policy and this will be based on an agreed timetable. “The first call down will be at the end of the month but for some regions, where they do things within the month, that schedule will be worked out by the Ministry of Health’s finance department,” he said.
In the meantime, the Minister appealed to parents to collect their children from the hospitals as soon as they are discharged. “Not because the stay will be free, we do not want you to leave your children there (at a hospital) for a month. It is not a children’s home or a place of safety. When the child is discharged, we are asking parents to pick up their children and do not leave the child indefinitely as there is no fee to pay,” he urged.

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