While Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital is the first paediatric hospital in the country, his predecessor UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan says it is a paediatric wing of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC).
In their contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives yesterday Deyalsingh and Khan not only differed in their views of the need for the Couva Children’s Hospital but they also differed on the future role of the country’s general hospitals providing tertiary care.
According to Deyalsingh, “Lest anyone wants to rewrite history,” there is already a children’s hospital situated at the EMWMC.
In trying to justify the building of this hospital, he said, the past administration said there was great need for a children’s hospital.
“The first children’s hospital has 87 beds. Occupancy rate right now is 70 per cent, which means we have a 30 per cent leeway to play with.”
The accident and emergency department, he said, sees about 7,000 patients a month.
Nevertheless, he said, Government would find a way to incorporate it into the national hospital grid.
On the other hand, Khan said the Couva Children’s Hospital Khan was going to be the first stand-alone children’s hospital in the country because the “Wendy Fitzwilliams hospital” is a wing in the EWMSC.
He said it did not provide specialist services like paediatric gastroenterology, paediatric cardiology, paediatric nephrology, paediatric surgical techniques of a higher nature than the regular run-of-the-mill surgery, paediatric neurology or other specialities pertaining to paediatrics.
When Government boasts of the Children’s Life Fund sending children away for medical treatment, Khan said, no local doctor learns the new medical procedures or techniques on how to treat with the various complex medical conditions.
On Deyalsingh’s proposal to start discussions on making the major hospitals, such as the San Fernando and Port of Spain general hospitals, centres of excellence for specialisation, Khan said, those hospitals were not internationally accredited. The Couva Children’s Hospital, Khan said, was built according to international accreditation standards. The Arima and Point Fortin hospitals are also being built along international accreditation standards, he said.