St Helena Online

Tag: hospital

Alleged illegal sterilisation of mother shocks inquiry team

A mother is alleged to have been illegally sterilised while giving birth at Jamestown Hospital, the Wass Inquiry reveals.

It says she was delivering her child by Caesarean section when she was sterilised “without her prior knowledge or consent” by the doctor looking after her.

“This is a shocking allegation which, if true, would constitute a serious criminal offence,” says Sasha Wass QC in her report.

The public solicitor told the inquiry said that the mother had been promised that the matter was being investigated.

But the panel was “disturbed” that many months had passed since the birth with no outcome.

It recommended that police and the attorney general should review the case.

St Helena Government noted the report but said it could comment for privacy reasons.

Don’t cast aside ‘family’ of carers in Cape Town, officials urged

Officials have been urged to continue sending medical patients for treatment in Cape Town when the island’s ship is replaced with flights into Johannesburg.

Legislative councillors heard that the “family” of people who support Saint patients in South Africa must not be cast aside.

“The electorate is really concerned about the likelihood of medical referral services being transferred to Johannesburg,” said the Hon Lawson Henry.

“All St Helena’s links have been with Europe and with Cape Town.

“The St Helena ‘family’ reside in Cape Town and they are the after-carers for the people who have to go off-island for medical treatment.

“Many of the St Helenians and those closely linked to the island who live in Cape Town have invested in enlarging their homes to accommodate our medical referrals.

“Are we now to cast all this aside and move it all to Johannesburg, where we have no established links for that Saint community who have done so much over the years to look after our people?

“I urge officials… to retain our links for medial services in Cape Town.”

The Hon Dr Corinda Essex said: “We are aware that hospital refurbishments and patient rehabilitation should reduce the number of patients requiring diagnosis and treatment overseas.

“However, it is likely to be the most critical and complex cases that will still require evacuation, and these individuals may well not be in a condition to cope without a strong support network.

“Such a network is long established in Cape Town, but none exists in Johannesburg.

“I am aware that a St Helena representative will be based in Johannesburg, but the support services that will be required extend far behind the scope of a single individual.”

  • Mr Henry hinted at dissatisfaction that councillors had no say in choosing an airline for St Helena. He said: “I contend that the St Helena Government did not make the decision to have the hub for our air services to Johannesburg: officials did.”

Saturday flights in BA livery confirmed for St Helena
Flights: chief sec admits doubts over medical care and crime
Flights to Europe and Cape Town ‘still up in the air’

St Helena needs ‘new hospital and new health service,’ says Ian

Health leaders have been given six months to make a case for building a new hospital on St Helena.

But Ian Rummery, chairman of the island’s public health committee, has called for wholesale reform.

“The case we have to make is not just about a new hospital – it is about a new health service.”

He spoke at a press conference on the island’s annual aid talks, two days after a large number of patients left for medical treatment overseas.

UK negotiators toured the hospital in Upper Jamestown soon after arriving for the week-long Development Aid Planning Mission (DAPM).

The aide memoire signed at the end of the week encouraged St Helena Government to “develop an initial longer-term hospital plan within six months”.

It also supported planned renovations to the hospital.

“We had a full and frank look at the hospital infrastructure,” said Councillor Rummery.

“The hospital needs a new operating theatre. One of the reasons there’s been a spike in medical referrals is we are having to send people offshore because we can’t do a lot of operations here.

“It is clear that the new operating theatre and diagnostic suite is a priority.

“But in the longer term we really need to be working towards a new hospital. 

“Let’s be clear: it is not the green light for a new hospital but it is, ‘Let’s talk about it – ‘you present the business case and we will start to discuss it.’

“That is very good because the discussions a few months ago were that the door was pretty much closed on a new hospital.”

Mike Olsson of the St Helena Independent asked whether work on a new hospital plan might mean improvements to the existing building would be put on hold for six months.

Ian Rummery replied: “We can do two things at the same time. We need to upgrade the hospital.

“A new hospital can’t be built overnight. You are talking years.”

Maintenance had become an issue, he said.

“We are being driven out of the hospital building. In the next six months we make a business case, concentrating on the hospital now but then going forward by ten years to having a new hospital and a health service.”

He said there was no truth in a suggestion that a new facility was needed to meet the requirements of the island’s new airport, due to open in 2016.

Overseas care is straining family fund, says Indy editor

The St Helena Independent noted on 17 January 2014 that there was an usually large number of doctors on the island – “it must be six or seven”.

Editor Mike Olsson wrote: “We apparently do not have the facilities to enable our doctors to perform their skills in a safe way. Therefore we are sending more patients to Cape Town than ever.

“I know that the enormous number of referrals have put huge pressure on the Family Trust Support Fund. Many people on their way to Cape Town have no spare funds for these kind of eventualities.

“The funds of the Family Trust are depleted and they need urgent funds to be able to help people in a desperate situation.”

Hospital and child safety highlighted as aid talks end
The Risk Assessment: hospital team does ‘an amazing job’

St Helena Independent, 17 January 2014 (see Editorial, page 2)

Island ‘could not cope’ with plane crash, warns medic

Dr Ahmad Risk
Dr Ahmad Risk

Medical teams on St Helena would struggle to cope with a major accident at the island’s new airport, a visiting doctor has warned.

Dr Ahmad Risk, who has been qualified for 40 years, has acted as a healthcare consultant as well as working as a civilian and military doctor, in the UK and internationally.

He praised staff at Jamestown’s hospital after working alongside them as a temporary locum doctor, saying they had to cope with inadequate facilities in challenging conditions.

He said massive improvements were needed in the next two years in order to bring healthcare on the island up to the standards tourists would expect.

And when asked about what would happen if there was a major accident at the airport, he resplied: “Heaven forbid.

“If we have a major incident, say a plane crash, without facilities it will be quite a struggle.

“I have to be frank and straight about it: with our current facilities on the island we cannot cope reasonably well.

“We will cope, to a certain extent, and people will put out all the stops and they will not sleep for days; they will do that because that’s what they trained to do. But the outcomes may not be as favorable as if you had a different set-up.”

St Helena Government said that plans were in hand for a major upgrade of the hospital and its facilities.

A detailed emergency plan was published as part of the original planning application for the airport. It can be found on the St Helena Air Access website.

The Risk Assessment: hospital team does ‘an amazing job’

Staff at the hospital on St Helena have been praised for the way they cope with challenging working conditions, by departing medic Dr Ahmad Risk.

He told Saint FM: “The front line staff – the doctors and nurses – do an amazing job under what I regard as very difficult conditions.

Medical care is a very good standard for the resources available. It is exceedingly good. They do a very good job. And it works for the island.”

But he warned that the arrival of large numbers of tourists – by island standards – would lead to a demand for better facilities for those who need care.

He said: “If you are attracting tourists from places where healthcare is funded on a different level, there will be a need to apply international standards that I’m afraid we don’t meet at the moment.

“Big strides have been made. Everthing can be improved.

“The resources of the island are not infinite and that will always be the case, so you have to manage your resources intelligently to extract the maximum output. On the whole that works very well.

“The resources of the island are not infinite and that will always be the case, so you have to manage your resources intelligently to extract the maximum output.

“It works on the goodwill of the front line staff who do the best they can, and they do that extremely well.”

Asked what could be done to improve the situation, he said bluntly: “Build the airport.”

Then he added: “You need money. Quite a bit.”

As it is, the health directorate has been required to accept cuts in its budget.

Dr Risk said: “Everywhere is being asked to cut; not just on St Helena but where I come from in the UK, so we have to cut our cloth.”