QEH CEO slams doctors for decision to treat emergency cases only

Warning that the unavailability of essential medical supplies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) had reached a crisis of the highest order, doctors at the state-run health care facility have decided to handle emergency cases only.

And they have called on Government to not only state unequivocally how it plans to fund the QEH in the short, medium and long term, but also to “explain the measures they will take to restore the broken supply chain”.

They took that stance today, following an emergency meeting of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) and the Junior Doctors Association (JDA) to discuss concerns about supplies and the administration of the hospital.

But the hospital’s chief executive officer Dr Dexter James called their actions “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

BAMP’s PRO Lynda Williams
BAMP’s PRO Lynda Williams

“We have discovered that not only is there a problem with the supply chain – the result of debt owed to suppliers who have closed their accounts with the QEH – but also with the governance of supplies and accountability for ordering,” BAMP’s public relations officer Dr Lynda Williams told Barbados TODAY following the talks in the hospital auditorium.

“Our great concern for patient safety has led us to take a decision that weighs heavily upon us because we understand the seriousness of its nature. From today, BAMP and the JDA have instructed our members to deal with only emergency cases.”

Williams said the supply shortage had reached such a critical level that doctors had to save the limited supplies to treat the most ill patients.

“In the past few months, we have seen a recurrence of shortages of basic supplies such as sterile catheters, alcohol, sterile gloves, IV fluids, sutures, some IV antibiotics, blood tubes, hand towels, soap, inexpensive medications such as lorazepan, lasix, heparin, soluble insulin and many more common drugs used to deliver care to pregnant women, children and the elderly,” she pointed out.

The BAMP PRO said the doctors were demanding an urgent change in the governance of the QEH because the medical practitioners “had lost confidence in the manner in which the hospital was being managed”.

When asked whether they were calling for the QEH management to go, she was quick to respond that it was “the system of governance” and not necessarily any individual or individuals they wanted changed.

The physicians urged the Freundel Stuart administration to ensure good governance and accountability for the management of the provision of supplies at the QEH.

“We suggested that a modern inventory system that monitors the usage of supplies from month to month be established immediately. We also suggest that doctors have a say in the supplies that are needed and ordered and can identify who is accountable if supplies are not available,” the BAMP spokesperson said.

BAMP and the JDA said they were willing to continue to meet with all stakeholders and to consult wherever and whenever they were asked, but insisted that “we cannot continue in the present circumstances with business as usual”.

“The health of the nation is at risk,” Williams declared.

The medical practitioners also recalled that in March this year, they warned that a short-term injection of cash to pay the hospital’s suppliers who were owed a large debt, could not be a viable solution to a recurring problem.

“Subsequent to this, BAMP met with the Minister of Health John Boyce as well as the CEO of the QEH Dr Dexter James and other Ministry of Health officials to try to chart a way forward for a long-term solution, but to date no such solution has been stated to the public,” Williams said.

Responding to the doctors’ decision to handle only emergency cases, the QEH CEO said supplies were replenished today.

CEO of the QEH Dr Dexter James
CEO of the QEH Dr Dexter James

He told Barbados TODAY he was disappointed by their actions since he had given an indication that the situation would have been resolved.

“I requested of the Head of the Department of Surgery to please hold your hand until I was able to have a conversation with you [because] we were addressing the situation to be solved the following day. As of today, all the items that they have said were on stock-outs, they were all in the hospital and we will continue to improve on our supplies as funds come our way,” James said, adding that there were now supplies to last at least a month and a half.

The hospital administrator also sought to clarify the doctors’ claim that suppliers had cut off the QEH.

Admitting that large sums of money were owed to suppliers, James said: “Instead of giving us credit, we have to buy our items in cash. While the accounts are on hold, they are on hold for providing credit, but they are not on hold for cash. In other words, our credit lines with some of these major suppliers are no longer available to us.”

“So we had to have cheques prepared, have them signed, take them to the suppliers and then get the goods to the hospital.”

James explained that the problem was the non-payment of overdue balances based on the credit terms vendors had given to the QEH.

“That is the challenge we have. We have balances outstanding in excess of 120 days in some cases,” he said.

He disclosed that as recently as Wednesday, QEH management had a meeting with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and a number of large creditors and they had been able to come to an agreement on the way forward.

“So I am convinced and satisfied that a resolution to the balance due to these large and small suppliers is on the way, and that is why I am saying it was really reckless that, in my view, the Junior Doctors Association, rather than come to management and discuss the issues so we can apprise them of the steps that we are taking, they run to BAMP and BAMP has now moved to a next level.”

“I find them very irresponsible. BAMP and the Junior Doctors Association need to sit with management and let us work out the problems that we have at the hospital,” James insisted.

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7 Responses to Irresponsible

  1. Cherise Unique Rock
    Cherise Unique Rock November 29, 2014 at 3:54 am

    CEO just caught napping. All of a sudden things could be purchased. Does he realise that people’s lives are at risk? They are running the hospital like a home kitchen – oh we’ve run out of catheters run down by Collins and buy two for me. The bad debts need to be paid off as a priority and cut out things like ministers travelling with a whole entourage to conferences.

  2. Tony Webster November 29, 2014 at 6:01 am

    This thing is like a running cancerous sore, and they keep putting sticking-plaster on it…and crossing their fingers that “it gine work-out OK”…maybe…when it is clear to anyone wid “brain engaged”…that radical surgery is absolutely necessary.
    Kudos to the B.A.M.P. folks, (whose patience is regularly strained to breaking-point)…before they are professionally obliged to blow the whistle.
    Thank God it is also a “live nerve” issue to many citizens (read: voters), so that it is one issue that is not easily kept “under wraps”, and is regularly hauled-out into the full glare of publicity, plus suffering folks in A&E who “vent” on Brass Tacks.
    You say…we are CELEBRATING something, this week-end?

  3. John Nicholls
    John Nicholls November 29, 2014 at 6:26 am

    The comment from the CEO that “instead of giving us credit we have to buy our items in cash….So we had to have cheques prepared have them signed then take them to the suppliers and then get the goods to the hospital ” really caught my attention This he explained was because accounts are on hold for credit not for cash.So credit lines from suppliers are no longer available to the QEH. But my view is that at some point in time those accounts are going to have to be paid So cash purchases are only a stop gap short term solution. And one can argue that if now supplies have run out you can find the cash to honor those cheques why couldn’t the payment of outstanding balances not have been handled before thus avoiding this situation?

  4. Cheshire McCat November 29, 2014 at 8:25 am

    This CEO is just a mouth piece for the present government and towing there line which is full of crap. The procurement department has all of $250.00. And what can this buy? Not even a Land purse. Patients have been buying their supplies for months now so they can get much needed operations. Bajans ain’t stupid umless they choose to be. The writing is on the wall. more irrespnsible tell the punlic the truth.

  5. Asiba November 29, 2014 at 8:46 am

    If someone had told me that the things in Barbados would deteriorate to this level , I would have said -Nah! Nah!

  6. Maxine Baker November 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Could someone assist me here? Who manages the store room? What time period has been the usual for the re-ordering of supplies? What is the chain of command for requisitions? Was the protocol followed in this situation? Did any such requisitions “catch dust” on anyone’s desk? Within what time frame do the requisitions reach the desk of the Financial Controller of the QEH? When did he/she come to know that the situation was grave? How much money was in the vote for the supplies? Was a supplement needed and when was it discovered? When did the matter reach the Minister of Health? When did it reach the Ministry of Finance? Had the matter reached the level of a request for a supplemental vote? Was the whole matter strategically and politically planned by persons whose word / instruction still takes precedent with some employees? Was the matter founded on the platform of politics with a view to setting things in motion to discredit the present government? If so, are those “master/mistress minds” now in the process of preparing their speeches for the next election? What else is to come? Please remember that thoughts have wings.

  7. David Hall December 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    If there was really no problem, as the CEO is trying to suggest, why does the Hospital not have a constant supply of the required items.


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