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Sick cuts

qeheye careBarbados’ doctors are concerned about Government’s plan to reduce funding to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, while simultaneously freezing temporary and substitute posts in the entire public sector.

The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners, in an official response to Tuesday’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, this evening said both measures would negatively affect the health sector, especially the QEH, which is the island’s main health care facility. BAMP Public Relations Officer, Dr. Lynda Williams, called for the expenditure cuts to be “carefully reviewed” given the expected fallout from the policy.

“While we acknowledge that in this difficult economic climate Government must do all it can to reduce public sector expenditure, we feel compelled to express our genuine concern about no direct plans to bolster an already underfunded healthcare budget and to add insult to injury: a planned $35 million reduction in transfers and subsidies to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when this institution struggles to honour its current commitments,” she said.

“With no clear indication of what areas of the QEH will bear the brunt of the shortfall, we express our concern that recent shortages of many kinds, including laboratory reagents to perform blood tests and essential everyday medications such as intravenous fluids, may become worse.

“Despite these shortages, the health workers of the QEH have continued to perform their tasks valiantly, but we suggest going forward that any cuts to the expenditure of the health sector, particularly the QEH, be carefully reviewed.”

BAMP was also concerned “that the freeze on temporary workers and substitutes in the public sector, including those filling in for appointed staff going on leave, will have a negative impact on the delivery of health services at the QEH and the polyclinics”.

“The health sector is already short staffed with respect to nurses and doctors and when these staff go on leave, there will be potential for overwork and burnout of those who remain if no temporary staff are used for cover,” Williams stated.

“If this situation is allowed to occur, it will lead to a compromise in the delivery of health care to the Barbadian public; may increase medical risk, and give rise to even greater expenditure in the long-run.

“We humbly suggest that Government reconsider the proposed freeze on temporary workers for areas of the public sector providing essential services such as health care.” (SC)

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