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Inniss and BAMP butt heads

Sanka Price

Inniss and BAMP butt heads

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THE MINISTER of Health and the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) are at it again.
This time a war of words has erupted between them over the administration of the health ministry’s policy on non-nationals’ access to treatment at Government’s medical facilities. The doctors are saying they will not be checking the documentation of non-nationals coming to them for treatment, while minister Donville Inniss has termed BAMP’s position on the policy “utter rubbish”.
Under the policy, non-nationals can no longer access medical services, including diagnostic, clinical or pharmaceutical services, to individuals who are not citizens, lawful permanent residents and on work permits unless it is an emergency or a public health threat.
However, yesterday in a circular to its members BAMP said: “Doctors will follow the directive from [the] Ministry of Health but will not be seeking to verify the status of any patient presenting to them for care. 
“Other ministry or polyclinic personnel may screen or determine who accesses the system, but doctors will not be checking ID cards and passports of their patients. 
“We will treat all patients equally per our duty as physicians.”
The emailed circular included the pledge of graduates from the University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Medicine. 
That vow states in part that “in the exercise of my profession, I will ever have in mind the care of the sick and the well-being of the healthy. To these ends, I will use all my knowledge and judgement”.
In response to the circular, Inniss, who was recently at odds with the doctors over the Dr Richard Ishmael suspension issue, said he did not expect doctors  be asking patients for ID cards or any other documents when they come for treatment as this was handled by medical records clerks at the polyclinics and the QEH. This is what happens now even before the patients get to see the doctor.
“For BAMP to raise this as an issue seems they have nothing serious to discuss,” said Inniss.
“I think BAMP needs to come to the table with more enlightened discussion. BAMP should spend their time writing on more serious matters,” he said.
Inniss said he spoke with BAMP president Dr Carlos Chase when the circular was drawn to his attention and reminded him that doctors had never been required to look at anybody’s ID card. 
“The verification to be done is not for the doctors,” the minister stressed.
Meanwhile, Inniss disclosed that he would be dealing with issues raised about Barbados’ policy on medical treatment for non-nationals along with other matters cropping up at the 21st meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development in Guyana last weekend.
Guyana’s health minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy criticized the policy, saying that despite cost challenges each CARICOM country should  provide access to free drugs and health care as a human rights issue.
Inniss was quoted on radio as saying that Ramsammy’s comments were undiplomatic.