The Ministry of Health is anticipating the completion of the Patient Charter, which has been in the making for a decade, by year-end, according to Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.
The Patient Charter, also known as the Patient Bill of Rights, sets out the rights of patients of general practice, hospital treatment, community treatment and ambulance, dental, optical, pharmaceutical and maternity services.
Dr. Ramsammy revealed that the final draft document was ruined in the fire, which destroyed the then Ministry of Health building in July 2009. Extensive consultations engaging healthcare professionals and potential patients were executed to craft the final draft.
He noted that the document was prepared as part of the Ministry’s Health Sector Reform and when completed, it is expected to be incorporated in the Ministry of Health Act.
Ramsammy assured that the implementation of the Patient Charter would improve the standard of service patients receive.
Oftentimes, many patients in Guyana have complained about harassments in the health sector. It is expected that the presence of this document would inform patients of their rights.
However, this document should not determine how medical practitioners treat patients as they have to adhere to the Medical Practitioner Act 1991, which clearly outlines the manner the relationship shared between patients and medical practitioners.
The Act states that all patients are entitled to good standards of practice and care from their medical practitioners. The essential elements of good standard of practice include good relationships with patients.
It further notes that a medical practitioner should listen to his patients, respect their views, and treat them with dignity and respect in a polite and considerate manner.
Dr. Ramsammy posited that few developing countries including South Africa have a formal Patient Charter. Trinidad and Tobago has drafted a Patient Charter but no other Caribbean country has a formal one.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is on the basis of the concept of the person, and the fundamental dignity and equality of all human beings that the notion of patient rights was developed.
It was noted that there is growing international consensus that all patients have a fundamental right to privacy, to the confidentiality of their medical information, to consent to or to refuse treatment, and to be informed about relevant risk to them of medical procedures.
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