The Gibraltar Government yesterday labelled Opposition leader Daniel Feetham “totally inadequate” for the role of Shadow Minister for Health, after Mr Feetham questioned the rise of formal complaints lodged to the GHA Complaints Board.
In a statement the government accused Mr Feetham of releasing unresearched information based on “conjecture and rumour” and paying more attention to “Facebook chit-chat” rather than statements in Parliament.
Calling this a “classic example of his lack of attention in Parliament”, the government say they have already answered his questions regarding complaints.
“In response to a recent question, Minister for Health Dr John Cortes explained that the Complaints Procedure had changed last year when it was passed on to the Ombudsman’s Complaints Handling Scheme,” a government spokesman said.
“Since then, minor complaints that would have been dealt with internally and not featured as formal complaints are now recorded formally, meaning that data from before 2015 are simply not comparable to those after.”
“The Minister also explained that complaints are not now brushed under the carpet or avoided, but are actually encouraged, so that they are all fully investigated and improvements effected.”
The government stressed that the complaints are not a reflection on the service that caters to 10,000 more appointments compared to a few years ago.
It was also highlighted that the Speaker of the House had ruled that Mr Feetham issuing a press release prior to parliamentary questions being answered should not happen.
In retort to Mr Feetham’s accusations of GHA departments being downsized the government stated: “No departments have been downsized, or expertise reduced”.
It added that there is continued training and over the last three years the GHA increased improved or created a number of departments Day Surgery Unit, Chemotherapy Unit, new Catering Facility, new Mental Health Facility and the soon to open Dementia Day Centre.
Batting away Mr Feetham’s allegations that Xanit referrals is due to a downsize in resources the government say the reverse is true with Hepatitis C now treated locally.
“What is happening is that with more patients being seen there is a greater overall volume of work,” a spokesman said.
“Progress and improved technology in healthcare provides our clinicians with greater choice to diagnose patients leading to more accurate diagnoses, treatment and better outcomes for patients. This is not specific to Xanit but to all tertiary centres.”
They claim no relation between referrals to Xanit and low morale among doctors and say Mr Feetham is playing with figures in regards to surgery cancellations.
“The GHA is doing much more health care than ever before, and this will of course cost more,” said the Minister for Health Dr John Cortes.
“The new departments and procedures we have introduced, which include a ward, three operating theatres, a day surgery unit, a chemotherapy suite, an expansion to Accident and Emergency, a whole new mental health facility at Ocean Views, as well as greatly increased patient turnover, and screening for bowel cancer and other conditions, necessarily results in increased costs.”
“But it has resulted in real outcomes and lives have most definitely been saved. I am proud to say that I am surrounded by excellent, well-motivated professionals who deliver a standard of healthcare unequalled in any community of our size.”
“Mr Feetham should pay less attention to spurious comments on Facebook and share in the deep sense of pride that all in our community should have in our health services.”