The Public Health Committee (PHC) held their monthly meeting on Wednesday, 5 September 2018.
Issues arising from the previous meeting were considered, with updates given by the Chairman. These included:
Progress on the application to the Estate Strategy Group to redevelop Sundale as a Primary Healthcare Centre for the Island. This had been discussed with the Chief Secretary and a decision is still awaited from the relevant committee
Proposal to offer support, and potentially exemption, for old age pensioners on Basic Island Pension who are unable to afford medical care will be followed up by the Assistant Financial Secretary
Proposal to introduce a national health insurance scheme was highlighted and it was confirmed that this had been discussed with the Chief Secretary with work underway to gather more information before the next PHC meeting
The Medical Services Organisation (MSO) contract review is still being awaited. The director updated that further documents are still needed from MSO and also that the procurement lead is currently off-Island. The report for the review is prioritised for completion as soon as practicable
With support from the attending Crown Counsel, the Committee considered a number of legislation, regulations, and policies, requiring updates or amendments. These included:
1. Mental Health & Mental Capacity Ordinance � the Committee resolved to support further work in respect of making the ordinance more robust to cover practices around Deprivation of Liberty for persons in care. The Committee recommended that consideration is given to ensuring that advocates and public guardians are consulted and made integral to decisions around Deprivation of Liberty for care-giving reasons, in the best interest of the individual involved. The Committee acknowledged that there are likely to be financial and operational implications and that these will need to be considered as the bill amendment process continues.
2. Medical, Dental & Pharmacy Practitioner Ordinance � the Committee agreed that the Director of Health should review the proposed amendments further and liaise with the Attorney General's Chambers. This can then be brought back to the committee for consideration. The key issue that the committee wanted reviewed included the internal processes within the health service for verification and authorisation of qualifications, and that the director, having taken relevant advice, recommends practitioners be licensed and that the recruitment process is considered as a key part of the authorisation and verification process.
3. Aerodrome and Port Regulations � the Committee determined that proposed amendments should be brought back after all the due technical considerations and revisions have been completed. Any financial and operational implications should also be fully explored beforehand.
4. Tobacco Legislation � the Committee received a report that the first draft is now being reviewed to ensure that all technical issues are fully considered and the next draft will then be brought to the Committee. It was agreed that the work plan should be undertaken, enabling this to be tabled, at the next available opportunity, to the formal sitting of the Legislative Council.
During his update report, the Director of Health highlighted some noteworthy key issues:
The new DfID Health Advisor will soon be visiting, with the Committee agreeing to meet with them at a specially arranged meeting
Ongoing work to transfer overseas referrals to Pretoria is in progress and expected to commence in October as planned
Budgetary pressures have been curtailed because of the rollover budget and there is an ongoing review of the expenditure plan for the second half of the financial year to determine areas where virement between budget lines may be required. The Committee is set to receive full budget updates and plans at the next meeting
Notable staff movements were highlighted to the Committee and the concern about aborted recruitment was discussed. It was resolved that all opportunities for collaboration with larger organisations and other governments for expert support should be explored
A demonstration was given of the proposed health information system, set to replace the current EMIS system, and the timeline for implementation by the end of the year was noted and commended by the Committee
Source: St Helena Government