The Prime Minister says with an operator, the Couva Hospital can be operationalised on a phased basis this year.
He was responding to prime minister’s questions in the House on Friday from Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe on when the Couva Hospital will be ready for use.
Dr Rowley said the initiative is to export healthcare using the facility and the Government, through the Health Ministry, and is currently engaged in putting that in place.
“It is taking a little while longer than we had anticipated, but we are advised by the University of the West Indies (UWI) that they are moving as fast as they can.”
He said a special-purpose company was set up in 2018 and consideration is being given to an operator for phased operationalisation later in the year. Bodoe asked if there were any provisions for local healthcare workers in the project.
Rowley replied, “I couldn’t give you the exact details, but certainly it will be an opportunity for healthcare providers of the highest quality and numbers in that hospital to provide healthcare for the national community but with a focus on exporting healthcare services.”
Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh asked about the phased operationalisation, but Rowley said he would not engage in guesswork but will wait until the final arrangements.
Bodoe asked if there was any assurance TT citizens will not have to pay. Rowley said the hospital is meant to be a fee-earning entity, but charges to citizens will be borne by the Government, as is done at other hospitals.
Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie asked about UWI’s involvement in the project. Rowley said the project started with a requirement of the Government to discharge its responsibility to UWI, as there was a claim of more than $200 million owing to the university. He said Government agreed to use the asset base to discharge the payment and UWI accepted it would be paid via asset transfer.
“We went further, where the UWI and the Government of T&T through the Ministry of Health would operate a hospital for profit providing additional training and services to the local and international community. And that is what is being worked on.” He added: “We do not have the final arrangements, as that is being worked out, but as soon as those final arrangements are available, as the Government always does, it will make them available to the population.”