On Tuesday 29th May at 19:20, 50 members of the public, (of which the majority were residents of Sandy Bay) gathered at the Sandy Bay Community Centre to hear the final decision on proposed plans to close the local Clinic. Governor Capes joined a panel of 6 Honourable councillors; Mervyn Yon, Stedson Francis, Cyril Gunnell, Tony Green, Derek Thomas and Raymond Williams to announce, and explain the Health and Social Welfare Directorates (H&SWD)decision to close Sandy Bay clinic.
Councillor Green chaired the meeting, and introduced Governor Capes who had "volunteered to speak to try and fill in some of the gaps on the decision to close Sandy Bay Clinic" In brief overview Capes explained how the councillors "had been over data and facts with a fine toothed comb and they too now accept that the decision to close the clinic was in fact the right one."
Capes also stated that this year "we will have six doctors working at the hospital each with individual skills giving us a wider range of expertise which means you will get better diagnoses and better treatment. This has been made possible by moving money around to fund these extra services." Capes hopes that the having a wider range of expertise will also reduce the number of overseas medical referrals. In the last financial year St Helena spent £870,000 on referrals, some £300,000 more than had been budgeted.
Councillor Gunnell chairman of the Health and Social Welfare Committee then read out the mitigation measures to coincide with the decision to close the Clinic.
The residents of Sandy Bay found the decision to close their clinic a tough one to accept, they showered the panel with questions and clearly stated their concerns. Many felt that concerns stated to the panel at the last Constituency meeting on the 10th of April had not been considered whilst making the decision.
Sandy Bay resident, Mr Hayward Benjamin pleaded with the Panel to "hold the Sandy Bay clinic open until the issue is properly sorted and answers were given to residents questions. Please!" A thought shared and supported by the majority of the Sandy Bay residents present.
The Sandy Bay clinic will close on Thursday 31st May 2012.
The full report from this meeting is available in 31 May 2012 edition of The Sentinel.