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Tufton: Ageing KPH needs multibillion-dollar overhaul to avert collapse

Published:Tuesday | October 18, 2022 | 12:12 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter

Following a complaint that one of the operating theatres at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) had ceased operations owing to a massive leak from the ceiling, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that when such problems arise, a team would normally go and carry out an assessment to correct the defect.

However, he said that a more systemic structural examination of the plant was necessary, noting that senior officials from the health ministry had started that conversation.

“I fully appreciate and understand the concerns and the complaints when these things happen. I will never try to excuse it away. The fact is, these problems are entrenched and are a direct result of the age of these facilities and the need for us to really overhaul now,” Tufton told The Gleaner on Monday.

The KPH, which is more than 200 years old, requires a multibillion-dollar overhaul, Tufton emphasised, adding that if extensive work is not carried out, the facility could end up like the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital.

“What you don’t want is for it to collapse on you as Cornwall Regional has done because what happened to Cornwall is that between limited maintenance and just the ageing plant. After 50 years, which is just about the lifespan of a building, it just stopped, and people just couldn’t occupy it,” he said.

Tufton disclosed that he has been having dialogue with his permanent secretary and chief medical officer on the commencement of a process to overhaul KPH.


Dr Morais Guy, opposition spokesman on health and wellness, yesterday urged his government counterpart to ensure that all operating theatres in public hospitals across the island are adequately maintained to deliver quality patient services.

Guy also said that he has been informed that the KPH had reportedly run out of medical oxygen within the last three days, forcing it to postpone scheduled surgeries and implement other mitigating actions.

When quizzed about this development, Tufton said he was unable to respond to the allegation but would carry out checks to determine whether the concern was valid.

In a statement yesterday, Guy said he was deeply concerned about the lack of oxygen because it revealed that the administration was no longer concerned about oxygen supplies as Jamaica was now recording few COVID-19 cases.

“We are no longer in a COVID-19 emergency. As such, the minister must ensure that our hospitals have the necessary oxygen supply on time to maintain the quality of health care delivery in these facilities,” he said.