Dr. Christopher Tufton
An audit is to be conducted of security arrangements at public health facilities to determine whether more security guards should be hired or electronic devices installed.
This is one of the decisions coming out of Wednesday's high level meeting to address security issues at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St. Andrew.
Protocols in how security guards engage with patients and visitors at public health facilities are to change as part of improved security arrangements.
The changes are in response to incidents at the Bustamante Hospital where staff were threatened or attacked.
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton gave details on the changes while speaking Wednesday night on TVJ's All Angles.
He explained that at present, security guards cannot intervene in an incident unless there is an assault on a medical professional.
He said the protocols for how private security companies operate have to be reviewed.
"One has to understand that in the context of a hospital, particularly in Accident and Emergency, there are going to be emotions at times because you're talking about persons who are in distress, loved ones who are in distress, and those emotions sometimes spill over into boisterous arguments... The question is, at what point do you engage because of an interpretation that that represents a threat?" he outlined.
Dr. Tufton said he has requested that the training of the security guards be completed before the contracts, which were recently awarded to five security companies, take effect.
The contracts are valued at $1.7 billion.
The Jamaica Medical Doctors Association has said that while positive results came from the meeting, it remains cautious.
Increased police presence
The police have agreed to increase their presence at all public health facilities.
Dr. Tufton said panic buttons will also be installed so that the police can respond more quickly when there is a threat.
Customer service training
Meanwhile, with members of the public complaining that hospital personnel are in need of customer service training, the Health Minister said this will be done under the Compassionate Care programme.
The training will include educating staff on ways to de-escalate disputes.
"So it's not always about having more security. It's about how you react...to someone who is in distress, and sometimes the approach can neutralise a situation," he declared.