Monday, October 6, 2008


The Minister of Health rolled out his government's revamped National Health Service today, and of course members of the media were invited.
Perhaps the minister saw this as an opportunity to get some good PR for his ministry, what with the recent blows he's received from Sasha Mohammed at TV6, as well as others on the dengue scare, and his own personal episode over Trinre.
Well Mr Minister, your gamble paid off. Some members of the media willingly put pen to paper or fingers to keypads to report, and it seems without question, on this new and improved addition to the health service.
But is it really improved?

"The NHS will include the development of the primary, secondary and tertiary care facilities nationwide, to increase the range, quantity and quality of services offered. All citizens and residents of Trinidad and Tobago will be eligible to register for NHS benefits via an electronic health card, he said." That quote is from Kimberly Castillo's story in the Tuesday Express.

But is the government's brainchild anything like the British NHS, whose core principles include providing a universal service for all based on clinical need, not ability to pay; shaping the needs and preferences of individual patients, their families and their carers; working continuously to improve the quality of services and to minimize errors; supporting and valuing its staff; and working with others to ensure a seamless service for patients?

If not, then Tantie Jean sitting at home reading her newspaper or watching/listening to the news might be tempted to ask herself, "Well how is that NHS different to what is on offer in the health service now? I am already paying health surcharge and NIS and still getting crappy service at the public hospitals and I have to dig deep into my pocket to go to a private doctor or hospital for the same service I am supposed to be getting for free! So what benefit is there in the NHS for me? Steups!".
Well Kimberly and Karen Cozier-Phillip of TV6 and Joanne Briggs of C News and the countless other reporters who attended that launch or just wrote the story, these are some of the issues you failed to address in your reports.

Miss Mohammed of TV6, this NHS deserves a starring role in your weekly opinion piece "Things that make you go 'Huh?'".
Please don't forget though to include the fact that your media colleagues quoted the minister ad nauseum on the plans for the service without really fleshing out how it differs from what currently exists and how it will benefit citizens.