QEH faces possible disruption in medical services
Barbadians have been put on notice for possible protest action by doctors at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), which threatens to disrupt the island’s health care service delivery.
The warning came tonight in the form of a terse statement issued by the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) following a more than one hour long meeting with its members at the QEH auditorium to discuss ongoing shortages of basic supplies.
While the statement did not say exactly when or what form the protests would take, it was clear that the health care practitioners, who in the past have resorted to handling emergency cases only, were not at all happy over the fact that promised funding by Government for the procurement of supplies had not been forthcoming amid ongoing discussions with the hospital’s administration and the Ministry of Health.
“The commitments in December 2014, to provide continuous funding for procurement of day-to-day supplies, have not been realized,” said BAMP public relations officer Lynda Williams, who read from a prepared statement.
While noting that there had been ongoing difficulty in providing optimum patient care, she said “our members have decided that BAMP must act in the best interest of the public to ensure that patient safety at the QEH is not compromised.”
However, she refused to entertain reporters’ questions on the statement.
When contacted tonight, both the Minister of Health John Boyce and the Chief Executive Officer of the QEH Dr Dexter James admitted that they were in the dark over the pending action by the medical personnel.
James said he would have to wait and see, while Boyce said he was not prepared to make any statement in the absence of official communication from the doctors.
However, the problems at the QEH are not at all new.
Last November, BAMP and the Junior Doctors Association announced that they would be treating emergency cases only because of an acute shortage of supplies at the island’s premier health care institution.
In December, the doctors again issued a warning to authorities about their intention to act, while warning that history must not be allowed to repeat itself at the QEH.
On that occasion, the health care practitioners further cautioned the authorities that they would “take measured and appropriate action in the public’s interest whenever the need arises”.
Earlier that month, the Ministry of Health published a statement in which it sought to assure the doctors that negotiations for a $25 million financial injection for the cash-strapped hospital were far advanced.
“These funds will be complemented by weekly transfers from the Treasury Department to the QEH to guarantee a continuous flow of service. It is anticipated that these measures will allow the QEH to meet its obligations on a timely basis and minimize any major inventory shortages in the future,” the statement said then.