The Ministry of Health is targeting 2015 for implementation of a new Customer Care Policy, which will stipulate the minimum standard of service delivery for employees at public health institutions.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says work to develop a draft has been completed, and the Ministry hopes to commence consultations with key stakeholders, including doctors and nurses, in January, to solicit their feedback and inputs on the document’s provisions.
Speaking with JIS News after making the announcement at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, in Manchester recently, Dr. Ferguson said the decision results from reports the Ministry has received in relation to alleged cases of abuse and mistreatment being meted out to patients and other clients accessing medical care at various facilities, by employees.
As a result, he said the Ministry’s Policy Unit was mandated to develop a Policy draft, “based on information they would have gathered over time…and looking at best practices in other jurisdictions, and what would best fit Jamaica.”
The Minister argued that “if we are to deal with this situation in an open and transparent way, then it requires a clear policy.”
“We believe that a Customer Care Policy that is fair and just will have the requisite sanctions, and will hold our workers accountable for their actions,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He emphasized that any policy being instituted, “must have some kind of sanction.”
Meanwhile, the Minister said he is mindful of abuse and attacks which employees have suffered from persons accessing medical care, particularly within recent weeks, notably at the Kingston Public Hospital, May Pen Hospital in Clarendon, and Mandeville Regional Hospital.
In light of this, Dr. Ferguson said that within the Policy framework, “we would have to take consideration of that, in terms of how they should (respond) in the event of being attacked.”
The Minister said that from the outset, he stressed the importance of stakeholder input through consultations, in finalizing the Policy’s provisions.
“My expectation is that, after the Christmas holidays, we should be actively engaging those stakeholders. We want to complete that exercise in time for the new 2015/16 financial year, and for me to be in a position to announce the acceptance of that Policy (when I make my presentation in either) the Budget or Sectoral Debate,” the Minister said.
By Douglas McIntosh