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The Ministry of Health has put contingency measures in place to ensure the effective delivery to care at public hospitals, as doctors continue their industrial action.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson told the House of Representatives on Thursday, April 4, that activities at public hospitals have been scaled down to emergency services only.

“There is no elective surgery that is taking place. There is a standing protocol as it relates to how we operate in periods such as this and, as such…the (entire) Ministry is on alert. All the mechanisms have been put in place,” he informed.

Dr. Ferguson advised that the Permanent Secretary; Officer in charge of Emergency Services, and Chief Medical Officer, along with the Chairmen of the four Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and Regional Directors are “actively monitoring” the situation “to ensure that we maintain minimal standards”.

He noted further that during these situations, the consultants are usually in place.

A release from the Ministry of Health said there has been “an unusually high level of absenteeism by doctors” since Thursday morning, which has affected service delivery at public health facilities, mainly hospitals across the island.

It said that most hospitals are offering emergency services only, clinics have been canceled and outpatient appointments as well as elective surgeries are being rescheduled.

Dr. Ferguson told the House of Representatives that information received by the Ministry indicates that the impasse relates to the impending re-classification exercise for doctors, which is scheduled to be undertaken during the 2013/14 fiscal year.

He expressed the hope that “the matter and concerns, which will be dealt with at the level of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, will be taken on so that there can be a cauterised approach to the present impasse.”

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter