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GSD ‘scaremongering’ on health, Govt says

The GSD is distorting an informal straw poll of some doctors to scaremonger the public for political ends, the Gibraltar Government said.

Last week the Opposition revealed that a poll conducted by a doctor who sought opinions from 31 colleagues found that most respondents thought the GHA was badly managed.

The poll also found that there was a wide perception of poor morale at the GHA, even though most respondents said their own morale was high.

The Opposition called on the government to look into the findings, which it described as ‘shocking’.

But No 6 Convent Place said the GSD was distorting the poll, which sampled the views of just 31 out of 81.5 doctors employed by the GHA.

A large and equally important component of the GHA medical workforce, our GPs at the Primary Care Centre, were not included in the poll and this impacts on the strength of the results and skews its statistical significance, the government said.

It is also highlighted that the survey found 61% of doctors did not feel low on morale.

The poll had been intended to inform organisational dialogue and provide constructive insight aimed at improving medical services.

The government said it was an informal document whose findings were opinions and perceptions as opposed to independently verified or empirical evidence.

“The Opposition are being alarmist and are creating undue public concern,” said Neil Costa, the Minister for Health, Care and Justice.

“As usual, they have their facts wrong and are relying on distortion and exaggeration to discredit Government.”

“The GHA is therefore confident, that whilst more is still to be done, it remains fully engaged with the Medical Management Team and all clinicians.”

One of the findings of the poll suggested that doctors are not included or engaged in the management of the GHA.

But this government said this perception was not supported by any evidence, adding that the GHA robustly rejected this “unfounded allegation”.

According to No 6 Convent Place, there has never been more involvement by clinicians in the GHA’s management structure.

It pointed to the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), a statutory body established in law, which had been “ignored by the previous administration”.

There are now 10 doctors directly and formally appointed into key management positions, the government said.

This represents 12% of the Medical workforce, with inclusion at all levels of management including statutory bodies such as the GHA Board, where two doctors hold full voting membership positions.

The GHA management is working closely with medical staff to enhance patient safety and clinical quality, the government added.

It cited as an example a “new and safer” prescription chart that has just been approved, adding that the GHA is also looking to implement an internal reporting system called Datix to highlight areas for improvement, an initiative led by GHA consultants.

On morale, the government said there is an active recruitment process into a number of key clinical positions currently underway, adding this will “undoubtedly” bring about further improvements.

These have targeted medical staffing increases to improve the service provision in areas including ITU/Anaesthetics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Medical department, Elderly Residential Care.

 

The GHA is also poised to implement the Consultant Contract, “which was not addressed by the previous government from 2004 to 2011.”

“The present administration is fully committed to achieving this and are finally, after complex and protracted negotiations, in a position to achieve this,” the government said.

Doctors have also been an integral part of the development of the Day Surgery Unit, which has changedthe delivery of surgery, and the new Chemotherapy Unit, which will allow patients to be treated in Gibraltar.

“Given former GSD Ministers’ Health performances in their tenure, Government will not take any lessons from the Opposition and I urge them to continue with their transparent and cheap political theatrics, which, I have no doubt, the people of Gibraltar will see through,” Mr Costa said.

“I must conclude by saying that my dear friend and colleague Dr John Cortes has done more to repatriate health services and improve the quality of clinical governance and medical care than the Opposition ever did when they had the chance.”