QEH needs more cash

(L-R) Senators Harry Husbands, Reggie Hunte and Patrick Todd.
(L-R) Senators Harry Husbands, Reggie Hunte and Patrick Todd.

Barbados’ “favourite political football”, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has been “badly managed” and “grossly underfunded”.

And instead of building a new hospital, government needs to give the hospital “a serious infusion of money”.

That’s the view of Senator Professor Henry Fraser, whose name was synonymous with the island’s main health care institution for several decades.

“Having been the pride of Barbados and of Caribbean health care throughout the 70s and the 80s, let’s be frank: It has been badly managed! And let’s be even more frank: It has been grossly underfunded!” the independent senator said this morning during the Estimates Debate. Fraser said the QEH had suffered badly and was the “victim of differential priorities, indifferent views and a great deal of political wrangling”.

“I produced a report for the first QEH board showing the tragic way that QEH funding has been frozen and barely moved from back around 1980 at various times. It remained at virtually the same sum, around $70 million, for several years, while the polyclinics were improved, the money had to be found for them, and the graph of funding for the QEH over the next 20 years until the board was installed was something like Two Mile Hill, sloped, while the cost of living and everything else in Barbados went up steeply like Horse Hill,” he recalled.

“And the dramatic gap between the cost of living and the cost of everything … and the QEH budget was frankly disastrous, and so that by the time the board came in place 10 years ago or so, given the task of making bricks from straw, given no money after some debate and persuasion that $25 million could be loaned and it took forever to even draw down that loan.

“But the short fall was so far more than the budget sometimes throughout the period over the turn of the century. You had a budget which was cut and the shortfall was now doubling the actual budget and so the sad saga since the transition to a board I have to say is too big a saga to cover today,” he added.

Fraser said it was also his “greatest relief” that there was no mention of a new hospital in the 2013-2014 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which he called “our traditional, usual cyclical pre-election promise”.

“We don’t need a new hospital because we have got to provide efficient, life saving care for our population for the next several years and therefore to provide the critical things that the QEH needs, some of which are being worked on now, like new intensive care and so on, requires a serious infusion of money,” he said. (SC)

2 Responses to QEH needs more cash

  1. Colin March 30, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I have to differ on this with the Professor. The QEH is outdated, the plumbing, electrical systems and IT infrastructure is inadequate to meet the current needs. The Emergency Room can not handle the demand placed on it daily. In fact in addition to serving as an ER, I was shocked to find out one day while waiting that it was also being used for follow up visits. The out patient management system is a disaster patients can wait all day and not been seen. Those not seen can have their appointments rescheduled for six weeks after with no guarantee to be seen. My father sat for a whole session once then to be told at the end of the day, the doctor who he was to see had left the hospital two weeks earlier. You can only do so much to patch the physical plant. The current facility is more than 40 years old and it will costs as much to renovate it as it will to rebuild it and the technology issues and space limitations still will not be addressed.

  2. Tony Webster April 1, 2013 at 5:31 am

    @Colin”: Thank you Sir, for the little breath of reality, and the cold, hard (and cruel) facts! Isn’t it amazing, how our perspective, and conclusions change, depending on (a) when we see/hear a big politico-goriliphant on TV8, (with de rigeuur boutonierre and and a gold-pin) spouting pleasant-sounding drivel, and then (b) the Colins of this blessed country, just telling us the plain, un-varnished TRUTH!

    Thank you @Colin, for the breath of fresh-air-cum-reality! This, compared with Politico-Goriliphants who pop-up on TV8, to spout pleasant-sounding drivel (replete with boutonierre and a gold pin). Amazing, but there are some folks …who swallow things…hook, line, and boutonierre! Bottom-line: We need the Colins of this world..to keep telling-it-like-it-is!

    Fact is, the QEH is a very creaky dinosaur, (still beloved of some, like an old aunty who can barely recall your name, but you love her yet), and in the absence of any long-term planning, we (and our leaders of all stripes) have just assumed Old Aunty will “live forever”. But what exactly, is the Rx: we just aint got US$1.5B to raise “QEH2″…and a another US$1.5B…..to kit her out with the latest equipment. See why credit-ratings have some little relevance? Effin we had retained our original ratings, there would have been lenders lined-up to lend us such long-term funds- which are the only sensible way to fund major public infrastructure! Hindsght of course, is always 20-20.

    My own sympathy goes out to the QEH doctors and all levels of staff, whom we still expect to deliver superlative care, whilst working in the bowels of an creaking dinosaur, managed my political “experts”. From my own experience, the QEH staff do in fact do in fact try very hard, whilst simultaneously battling “QEH psychosis” .Each and Every day


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