Hope takes on a bigger health burden
Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mt Hope, thrown
wide open to the public on New Years Day, is on trial
for its adequacy in delivering on official promises.
Patients who accept the invitation to Mt Hope will be participants
in a decisive field test.
Nobody can know for sure what to expect, until he or she
presents at the reception desk of a hospital in search of
Against that background, the public will evaluate Health
Minister John Rahaels assurance that all systems are
ready yesterday for patients seeking free medical treatment
at Mt Hope.
It might have come as a surprise to some citizens that services
at a state health institution had been available to taxpayers
on a fee-paying basis as at private
Prime Minister Patrick Manning broke that story in his October
8 budget speech. He evinced pride in the decision to end
an inequitable and pernicious system whereby
people in the Mt Hope neighbourhood received free services,
while others paid.
shall put a stop to that, Mr Manning vowed. From January
1, 2005, all medical services including the use of
the medical facilities offered at the Eric Williams Medical
Sciences Complex will be free to all nationals, he
With the freeing-up of the complex for all citizens from
yesterday, Mt Hope has moved definitively into the mainstream
of public health care.
Though Mr Rahael said everything was ready, he was careful
about the assurances he did actually give.
have been apprised by the personnel at Eric Williams that
everything is in place. We have adequate personnel and equipment
and I expect that everything will move smoothly, he
In the period since the budget, some muttering had been
heard that Mt Hope might not be ready to deliver on the
commitment grandly issued by Mr Manning.
In the New Years Day advertisement, the scope of the
commitment was quickly narrowed down.
The Prime Minister had said it would be free to all
nationals of T&T.
What the Health Ministry has offered, though, is a free
service for only those people who had earlier called at
public hospitals or health centres and had been referred
to Mt Hope.
This is significant. As now arranged, the free service is
meant obviously to benefit the citizens who resort to state
hospitals and health centres, and this is good, as far as
It was not, however, what Mr Mannings budget promises
had led the country to expect.
And its implementation must question the reliability of
grand prime ministerial declarations. Especially since no
official explanation has come for this newly narrowed focus.
Mt Hope spokesman Charmaine Codrington has offered what
only sounds like an explanation. She said the restriction
of free care to patients referred from hospitals and health
centres ensured Mt Hope would not be overextending
In a current row over equipment supply, one senior doctor
at Port-of-Spain General has claimed Mt Hope has been privileged
by the NWRHA.
Obviously, however, Mt Hope officials do not see themselves
as so privileged as to welcome patients walking in off the
street, without public hospital screening, or those referred,
say, from a private doctors office. Regardless of
grand budget promises.