The Minister of Health Volda Lawrence was knocked on her claims regarding the health sector during the 2019 Budget debate Thursday.
One notable instance was her declaration that there will be a new state-of-the-art Trauma Centre at the Georgetown Hospital next year, for which no money was actually budgeted.
The news of a state-of-the-art Trauma Centre to replace the Accident and Emergency Department was first raised by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan in his budget speech.
In the National Assembly Thursday, Minister Lawrence went a step further; she declared that the centre will actually be built next year.
She declared: “Mr. Speaker, in 2019, in order to eliminate the inadequacies of the 18-bed Emergency Unit that exists at the Georgetown Hospital, the construction of a state-of-the-art Trauma Centre will be built in an effort to control patient flows, and to accommodate more patients seeking medical attention.”
That claim was picked up by Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Vindhya Persaud, who worked in the Emergency Department for many years and understand the need for a new Department.
“I know that it is needed, Mr Speaker, I like that it is being talked about. But when you read the budget it is just discussions,” Dr Persaud stated.
“Is it that this will be just another mirage?”
Dr Persaud’s assertion was more in line with what the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan announced during his budget speech.
He did not announce any funding to build the new trauma centre but said talks were underway to secure the funding.
And so, nowhere in the budget estimates is there any funding for this project for next year.
This is what the Finance Minister said: “…we have commenced discussions with interested development partners to build a modern, state-of-the-art Trauma Centre that will allow us to better manage emergency cases, including addressing patient flow, isolation and capacity.
What the budget does provide for next year is $524.6 million for the Georgetown Hospital, and all of that will be used up on other projects the Minister listed, and not on a trauma centre.
Here are the projects that the funding for next year will go towards:
· The completion and furnishing of the Waterloo Street Staff Quarters
· Commencement of works to rehabilitate and extend the pre & post-natal wards at the Maternity Unit.
· Renovation of the mental health clinic & transformation to a mental health ward.
· Construction of a four-storey building in the GPHC compound to relocate the Main Pharmacy and the Medical Records Department.
· Upgrading of the GHIS at the GPHC. This will allow the Corporation to commence and roll out the Health Management Information Systems across the hospital
· Procurement of a new C-Arm machine to assist in orthopaedics and urology surgeries.
A total of $35.9 billion has been budgeted for the health sector for 2019. Within this allocation, a sum of $3.2 billion is for the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of health infrastructure across the country and another $7.8 billion will be used to procure drugs and medical supplies.