Head of doctors’ body proposes fund to collect $120M annually
With the financial viability of the health care system under threat, the head of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) has offered Government a rescue plan.
President Dr Carlos Chase today proposed the establishment of a Health and Education Security (HES) Fund that he said could put an estimated $120 million into Government’s coffers annually.
Under that plan, $100 would come from the approximate 100,000 workers in Barbados and paid into the HES Fund which he said should be managed and administered by the National Insurance Scheme.
He made these and other suggestions – including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) operating on a 24-hour schedule and extended opening hours at polyclinics – as he addressed the second QEH Health Care Financing Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on the topic Financing Health Care: A New Approach.
Chase further recommended that after about five years, when the public health care system was on a better financial footing, contributions to the HES Fund could be adjusted to help pay for education and security.
For example, he explained, 60 per cent of the contributions could go to health, 20 per cent to education and 20 per cent to security.
His new approach to financing health care at the QEH also calls for the formation of a new public-private sector company.
“Right now there are patients coming into the hospital and there is a mix-match on the private and public wards . . . . It’s a bit confusing. You should separate them [public and private wards] completely. You should form a company, which should be shared, and move the hospital to 24 hours. Right now the hospital functions 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. After that, the lab shuts down, the laundry shuts down, the social services branch shuts down, administration shuts down,” he said.
“It’s a hospital; it should run 24 hours,” the medical association head declared.
The BAMP president also suggested extended opening hours be introduced at all polyclinics.
“After 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock and you go to the A&E, it’s like bedlam, because if you cannot afford private health care, there is nowhere else to go. If you go to the emergency [private] clinics you have to pay. Extend the hours of the polyclinics to take in those people,” he insisted.
He also proposed the outsourcing of some services, like engineering, to reduce the burden on the QEH.
Chase told the conference that there should also be a sharing of services delivered by the public and private sectors.
“Currently approximately 25 per cent of surgeries performed at the QEH are private . . . 20 per cent of deliveries in Barbados are private . . . . We need to get at least 50 per cent of the population out of the public service and into private care to remove the burden on Government and the social services,” added the BAMP head.
Incentives, he said, should be encouraged. Chase was of the view that electronic medical records would also help to reduce the health care costs and reduce errors.
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