Dr Morais Guy, opposition spokesperson on Health, says Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, erred when he ascribed blame for the delay in the rehabilitation of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) on the lack of capacity and technical know-how of the local contractors.
Earlier this week, Tufton pledged a major shake-up to the renovation plan for the Type A facility.
He stressed that international expertise would be critical to getting over the hump – an obstacle he blames primarily on the lack of local experience in hospital buildout.
“Too many recalibrations and too many re-evaluations, too many variations, and I believe it is substantially a function of inexperience,” Tufton told a Gleaner Editors’ Forum, held in conjunction with the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Guy said he is not surprised at the latest attempt by Tufton to shift the blame for the debacle at CRH to the contractor,. He, however, believes that the blame should be shouldered by Tufton and his leadership style and marketing of the Health ministry.
“Minister Tufton should simply accept responsibility for the chain of failures which has resulted in the set back of the project and the waste of millions of taxpayers’ funds,” Guy said.
He further stated that Tufton’s suggestion to shift the project to overseas contractors is an “indictment on the skills level and professional capacity of our tradesmen and it is manifestly unpatriotic.”
He noted that Tufton had failed equally to acknowledge the impact of the administrative humbug and internal impediments, which resulted in the delay of the procurement process.
The Shadow Minister said on the CRH project to date, the country had already spent approximately JMD 60M for project management consultancy from a foreign consultancy which did not resolve the issues at the hospital.
He said the naming of a new group of project managers is clearly another episode of” waste of public funds which seems to have become the hallmark of Minister Tufton and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”
Guy said he specifically raised concerns regarding the progress of the work at CRH at a press conference in December 2019.
“I highlighted then that the original deadline of April 2018 was shifted to September and then again shifted to November 2019, and on top of that, in July of 2020, Minister Tufton stated publicly that the rehabilitation of the CRH was progressing well with the first phase slated to be completed in August. This assurance by Minister Tufton included several elements such as roof repairs, gutting of the tenth floor and establishment of the hoist for the removal of debris.”
According to Guy, every missed deadline adds to the waste of public funds. He said the health minister should move with alacrity to deal with this matter with the “seriousness it deserves instead of promoting the use of foreign contractors.”
“Beyond Dr Tufton’s feeble attempt to pivot from this latest debacle at CRH, the entire saga amounts to a disregard and disrespect of the people of Cornwall and Western Jamaica, who have been placed at a disadvantage because of the lack of services at the hospital facility despite the time elapsed and money spent,” he said.