QEH to get a further $25 million injection
After injecting $22 million into its operations earlier this year, Government is preparing to bring a further $25 million supplementary to Parliament before the end of the current financial year to assist the cash-strapped Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
Health Minister John Boyce made the disclosure today following a QEH tour, led by officials of the state-run health care institution.
“The supplementary vote was anticipated to be $18 million at one stage, but because of the work we had to undertake because of the reality of the Ebola virus we expect that supplementary may rise to $25 million,” said Boyce, while clarifying that the QEH’s Accident & Emergency Department (A&E) was being prepared to carry out “pre-screening” of suspected Ebola patients.
Today’s tour came in response to public concerns about the ability of the hospital to deliver quality patient care, following stern warnings from the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) and the Junior Doctors Association that the situation at the hospital had reached a crisis state, and that they had decided to handle emergency cases only.
In strongly condemning the move by the doctors yesterday, hospital CEO Dexter James described it as both “reckless” and “irresponsible”.
He had earlier cautioned back in August that while the situation at the QEH had stabilized somewhat with a $22 million injection from Government, there would be need for a longterm plan to finance the primary health care facility, which is indebted to the tune of $30 million.
During today’s tour of the QEH compound, media representatives were shown various aspects of the hospital’s operation, including the A&E Department, which has been at the centre of recent complaints about service delivery.
However, at the time of the tour, the Department appeared to be at a manageable level both in terms of patient numbers and treatment.
Minister Boyce also sought to make it clear that even in the worst of times, the hospital’s suppliers had never withdrawn their services.
“I want to establish the fact here. The suppliers have never withdrawn service to the QEH and this is because of the constant dialogue we maintained with these important players in the business.
“This is a dialogue which will continue and a dialogue which I believe will allow us to eventually reach a position where we can look forward to containment of costs in terms of the procurement of drugs and other supplies as we continue to work to more permanent solutions,” the Minister of Health said.
He assured that the authorities were seriously treating to the issue of the hospital’s indebtedness to major suppliers, revealing that “the last meeting was under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister [Freundel Stuart] when we shared with the major suppliers of drugs what solution we will put in place”.
“ Through the Ministry of Finance we are looking forward to being able to put that permanent solution in place in the next two to three weeks,” he added.
Following the tour, acting CEO Louise Bobb also pointed out that the hospital had a supplies management system, which gave management intelligence on how, when or where we should re-order. However, she said it come down to the availability of cash to back up the orders.
Director of Medical Services Tony Harris said “the buying of these supplies is a continuous exercise. The hospital does not have extensive warehousing facilities. So we are almost always purchasing supplies on a demand basis.
“There was glitch of this procedure and we did fall below a level where we should have ordered. However that has been fixed. The supply chain has been built back up quite significantly, ” Harris explained.