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Govt to get $.5m from new hospital fees

The trinidad Guardian / Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says Government will collect half a million dollars from the increase in licence fees to private hospitals.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian about the licence fee hike yesterday, Deyalsingh said this was the first increase for privately run hospitals since legislation was enacted in 1960. Since then the private institutions had been paying $150 based on bed count. A recommendation to increase the fees made in 2003 was never approved, but he said “that was at a lower level, we are now bringing to a more realistic level.”

The increase in the fees based on bed count, as contained in the Private Hospitals Act, will affect 16 private hospitals, 12 of which have under 30 beds and will pay the new rate of $25,000. Only four private hospitals have between 30 to 60 beds and will pay $50,000. There are no private hospitals with over 60 beds to attract the highest fee of $100,000.

“So between those 16 institutions they will be paying only $500,000 annually,” Deyalsingh said, adding the fee changes do not apply to private old age homes, convalescent homes or palliative care homes.

Asked whether there was a plan to impose similar fees on other facilities offering health care such as CT scans, ultra sounds and MRIs, Deyalsingh said, “we taking things one stage at a time.”

He said monitoring of the private hospitals had been “sketchy” in the past, but there had been increased monitoring in the recent past.

Those private institutions included private dialysis centres, seven of which were closed down under his watch, “and we gave the owners a list of recommendations for improvement of services. Dialysis Centres are now up to scratch.”

He said the ministry’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Principal Medical Officer of Health (PMOH) had been working alongside these facilities and they were pleased with the response they got. Throughout the inspections, he said the ministry “never shut down any hospital but has advised on areas for improvement” and follow up visits were done to ensure compliance.

Deyalsingh said under the law the ministry also monitors “radiation centres at Southern Medical and Brian Lara Centre because those are the centres we send people to.”

A total of 75 medical institutions have paid the current licence fee to operate of $150. Apart from 16 private hospitals, a maternity hospital and 58 medical treatment centres which do not provide overnight medical care are listed on the ministry’s database. This is inclusive of homes for the aged, dialysis centres and doctors’ offices that perform same day surgery.

The ministry is, however, still compiling data on the 16 hospitals which will be subject to the increased licence fees.

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