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Deyalsingh: Payments made to pharmacies
Payments to pharmacists for July to August 2015 have been processed and were due to be out between yesterday evening and today, whereas payment for subsequent periods are being processed, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday.
Deyalsingh was replying in the Senate to questions from Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge.
Sturge had noted statements by the Pharmacy Board president regarding the stated intention of a growing number of pharmacies to “withhold” CDAP services. Sturge asked Deyalsingh what would be done in the short term to alleviate hardships to the vulnerable.
Deyalsingh said for the July-August 2015 period, payment has already been processed via the automatic Clearing House and credited to the accounts of the respective pharmacies and should be out by yesterday afternoon or today for the latest, “and this was already in the cards,” he added.
For the September 2015 period, payment was already processed and will be received. For the period October 2015 to January 2016, he said, requests for payment had been signed off by Nipdec to be submitted to the Health Ministry by yesterday afternoon for release of funds.
Deyalsingh said the situation had nothing to do with lack of funds or lack of advances, but with problems with the private sector firms charged with the responsibility of converting the actual prescription into dollar value which then comes to Nipdec.
Part of the reason, he added, had to do with the late reading of the 2016 Budget due to a “late election” which the PNM had advised the PP against, Deyalsingh said.
Asked by Sturge why the situation was allowed to develop, Deyalsingh said that was because the PP had not dealt with the bills for July, August and September 2015. Continuing to blame the situation on the PP government, he said the PP had a “late election,” and had cut Nipdec out.
In response to Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s query on when the St James Medical Complex and Sangre Grande Hospital will be supplied with sufficient quantities of life-saving drugs for cancer patients, Deyalsingh said no cancer patient is being disadvantaged regarding drugs.
He said oncologists have informed him that they have adjusted treatments for a second choice of drugs and treatment is going according to protocol.
Deyalsingh claimed the shortage of drugs was “due to the late Budget” and poor procurement protocols since Nipdec’s contract had been taken away. He said he had asked the Finance Minister to ask Nipdec to resume supply. He added Nipdec will be put on an annual contract and private sector suppliers had been asked to “lend” stock to put into the public sector.
Replying to UNC Senator Khadijah Ameen’s query about surgeries being put on hold at some hospitals due to lack of drugs, Deyalsingh said this may have been the case at the Sangre Grande Hospital over the Christmas season when cleaning of the surgical areas resulted in elective surgeries being put on hold.