Skeldon Hospital sit-in: RHO blames miscommunication for drug shortage

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Miscommunication was to blame for Monday’s ‘sit in’ by Accident and Emergency (A&E) physicians at the Skeldon Hospital Regional, Health Officer (RHO) Dr Javaughn Stephens said Tuesday.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Public Health, following a stakeholders meeting Tuesday at the Skeldon Hospital, Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) Stephens confirmed that no one informed hospital and regional authorities or their bargaining agency, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), about a shortage of drugs or medical supplies to treat the A&E patients.

A&E doctors at the hospital staged the ‘sit in’ to vent their frustration over shortages at the hospital to treat their patients.

Stephens said some of the medical items were handed over Tuesday morning to the A&E department and the remainder will be given “before the week is out”.

He said A&E physicians resumed duties Monday afternoon.

Tuesday’s stakeholders meeting “amicably resolved” the issues which sparked the industrial action, Director of Pharmacy Mr Oneil Atkins said in the Public Health statement.

Atkins said the Skeldon Hospital pharmacy has “some 60 percent of the drugs” needed to function. He is adamant that Monday’s ‘sit in’ by A&E physicians was unwarranted and their claim of a serious shortage of drugs which hampered their work “was a gross misrepresentation of the facts.”

He admitted however, that there is a “problem with medical supplies” at the Region Six medical institution. The problem, Atkins said, is created by inadequate forecasting, the first step in planning which leads to accuracy of anticipated needs, by Skeldon Hospital officials.

“There is difficulty getting correct consumption (patterns) to inform the MMU” (Materials Management Unit) which supplies Health Posts, Health Centres, District Hospitals, Regional Hospitals and the Referral Hospital with drugs, medicines and medical supplies.

The local health sector uses an average monthly consumption pattern to help with forecasting the needs at the existing five levels. Atkins said the health sector might have to resort to a more scientifically reliable forecasting method.

The staff of the Skeldon Hospital will be “beefed up” according to Atkins, who further outlined some of the other decisions taken at Tuesday’s meeting..

He said other strengthening measures will include ensuring two additional qualified pharmacists are recruited and posted to serve the Region while another will be stationed permanently at the Skeldon Hospital Pharmacy.

“Clear lines of communication are also to be established for collaboration and cooperation” at the hospital in the ‘Ancient County’, Atkins said.

Atkins, Foster and MMU officials were part of a team which visited the Skeldon Hospital and held discussions with employees and Regional officials in a bid to get a more accurate assessment of the hospital’s current and future needs.

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