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Saint Lucia’s health sector to get urgent attention

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - Government has admitted that currently the island’s health care system is not adequately providing quality care and service to the people of Saint Lucia.

Speaking during the opening of the 3rd Session of the 8th Parliament, Tuesday, in the Throne Speech, Her Excellency the Governor General, Dame Pearlette Louisy said that despite strenuous efforts in the past few years, to change the island’s health care situation, not much has been achieved. This she explained is due to a number of factors, key among them – financing.

“Over sixty percent of Saint Lucians do not pay their medical bills to the public sector institutions. Some clearly cannot pay; others can but will not pay. The burden of payment is therefore carried by some and this is manifestly unfair,” Dame Pearlette explained.

The Governor General noted that Government has appointed a Task Force under the Chairmanship of Miss Emma Hippolyte, to look into the problem of health care financing. The Task Force will, in the course of this financial year engage civil society on the options available.

Government will also appoint a Commission to inquire into and report on the terms and conditions of employment of nurses and doctors. The Commission will be required to:

  • To conduct an assessment of payment mechanisms of health providers currently being used in Saint Lucia to ensure appropriate differentials in compensation, taking into account the significant differences in the levels of responsibility between one practitioner and another;
  • To examine existing incentives within the system and assess their influence in achieving declared social and health sector goals;
  • To identify options for modification and assess them relative to Saint Lucia’s policy priorities, technical, legal and institutional feasibility;
  • To identify specific conditions that are required for the implementation of modifications in payment mechanisms to health providers;
  • To review the existing policy of dual (private/public sector) employment status of health care professionals specifically :
    • to examine hours of work vis-ŕ-vis compensation
    • Quality assurance – the number of patients seen vis-a0vis the number expected clinical hours engaged
    • To determine potential areas of conflict of interest
  • To make recommendations to Cabinet on modifications in payment mechanisms to health providers taking into consideration the economic resources to Saint Lucia in the prevailing economic circumstances.

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