Story Highlights The Ministry of Health and Wellness on Wednesday (September 25), signed framework agreements with 10 radiology providers, which will facilitate increased access to certain diagnostic services for persons within the public healthcare system. The initiative falls under the Enhancing Healthcare Services Delivery Project, which forms part of the Government’s strategy for the reduction in wait time and overcrowding in hospitals. The Ministry of Health and Wellness on Wednesday (September 25), signed framework agreements with 10 radiology providers, which will facilitate increased access to certain diagnostic services for persons within the public healthcare system.The initiative falls under the Enhancing Healthcare Services Delivery Project, which forms part of the Government’s strategy for the reduction in wait time and overcrowding in hospitals.Services to be provided under the agreements are computerised tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, endoscopy and histopathology.Participating providers are Apex Radiology; Danhope Radiology Services; Dynamic Imaging Associates; Island Radiology; North Coast Imaging; Radiology West; Erin Radiology Services; Kris Radiology Services; St. Jago Ultrasound; University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI); and Imaging Intervention Associates.Speaking at the signing ceremony and official launch of the project at the AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said the objective is to enable patients to access certain diagnostic services free of cost through private providers, in cases where the public hospital does not have the equipment or they are not working.“So, we have strategic locations, which means all hospitals and patients who use hospitals, will qualify to visit with relative ease, a location close to them, irrespective of their ability to pay. They will get those services free of cost to them, paid for by the Government,” he noted.Dr. Tufton said this intervention will ensure that Jamaicans who use the public health system, will not be denied treatment.“We estimate that over 60,000 will benefit and it will cost the Government approximately $200 million in the first year,” he indicated.Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said that the second and more sustainable long-term initiative under the Enhancing Healthcare Service Delivery Project, is the equipping of hospitals with the well-needed diagnostic machines.“We have already commenced the procurement process for a range of important diagnostic equipment. These will be placed in hospitals [based on the type] and the equipment required,” he said.“We are estimating, in the first instance, that… to procure these equipment will initially cost almost $2 billion,” he noted.He informed that the Ministry has been in dialogue with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for another $2 billion (in the 2020/2021 fiscal year) to procure more equipment.“We are hoping that the decisions we take today will lead to a hospital infrastructure that will have critical equipment,” he said.Meanwhile, General Manager, Apex Radiology, Robert Nelson, said the providers are pleased to partner with the Ministry to improve diagnostic services to the public.“As we heal the nation, one diagnosis at a time, we expect to see shortened waiting times, reduced length of stay and greater availability of hospital beds for more critical needs,” Mr. Nelson said.The objectives of the Enhancing Healthcare Services Delivery Project include improving the delivery of elective care services to persons accessing treatment within the public healthcare system/reduce wait time for elective surgeries; increase access to diagnostic, radiology and laboratory services; development and implementation of policy for the treatment of social cases; and increasing bed space capacity for emergency room and other admissions through the removal of social cases. Services to be provided under the agreements are computerised tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, endoscopy and histopathology.