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  • Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson, has instructed the island’s regional health authorities to put measures in place to improve communication and consultation with their staff.
  • The development came out of discussions with the heads of the four regional boards of health on Saturday, July 5, at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James.
  • The talks came against the background of the withholding of some payments due to staff by the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), recently.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson, has instructed the island’s regional health authorities to put measures in place to improve communication and consultation with their staff.

The development came out of discussions with the heads of the four regional boards of health on Saturday, July 5, at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James.

The talks came against the background of the withholding of some payments due to staff by the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), recently.

Dr. Ferguson, who met with the workers a day earlier, apologised to them for the way the situation was handled by the WRHA, and pointed to the need for regional boards to consult with all groups on methods to realize cost savings and efficiency gains before reaching a decision.

As such, he said, the regional authorities have been mandated to improve the channels of communication within the health institutions, and with professional organizations and trade unions.

The health authorities are also required to hold joint monthly or quarterly meetings to share and develop operational best practices.

In addition, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister on Special Assignment to the Ministry of Health, Hon. Luther Buchanan, is to meet regularly with the WRHA as part of the mechanism to “bring greater value to the communication process and how we bring about the necessary changes.”

Dr. Ferguson said that given the challenges of cost constraints and the need for increased efficiency it cannot be business as usual in the health sector.

“There will be changes in how we do business going forward given the circumstances of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, and our own objective as a country to have greater efficiencies within the sector, while at the same time, look at how we can work together and still maintain the quality service that the country deserves,” he stated.

Present at Saturday’s meeting were: acting chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Dr Andrei Cooke; chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Leon Gordon; chairman of the WRHA, George Duncan; and Chairman of the South Regional Health Authority (SRHA), Michael Stewart.