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Privatisation of Covid-19 testing

St Augustine Medical Centre - given a role in COVID-19 testing

Minister for Health Nickolas Steele has confirmed the privatisation of COVID-19 testing.

He said that two medical facilities have been approved by government to conduct tests on behalf of the State.

“We have two facilities that we have approved for COVID testing, that is “Fit for Life and St Augustine -they do one form or another type of COVID testing,” he told reporters at a post-Cabinet press conference.

Minister Steele called the arrangement with the two entities a Public/Private Partnership saying the move is aimed at providing State Health Care agencies with more time to focus on other aspects of healthcare.

“Government’s duty and the Ministry of Health’s duty I think, is to be a regulator of health services – to be a provider of health services as well but to allow private providers to provide services wherever possible,” he said.

“We would be looking at various measures that would incorporate private entities as we move forward, especially within the hospitality sector, for arrangements to be made there rather than for us to be using the Ministry of Health personnel and Ministry of Health personnel would then just regulate and would allow the same Ministry of Health personnel to focus on the other responsibilities like Vector Control and otherwise. So it would be prudent for us to explore that,” he added.

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The outsourcing of COVID19 testing was not without controversy as “Fit For Life”, owned and operated by Cecil Mitchell, had initially been sidelined from the deal.

Mitchell had been ahead of the curve early on in the outbreak of the virus and had ordered a large batch of test kits to be able to test for COVID19.

According to our information the kits had disappeared from the Customs Department of the Ministry of Finance and may have been diverted elsewhere.

Mitchell is said to have lobbied the State later on for Fit for Life to be included as an approved testing facility.

Spice Isle Imaging, considered the largest private medical facility on the island, was not selected by the Keith Mitchell-led government to take part in the Covid19 testing.