Mottley’s health prescription

healthxtodayxmariexclaire-01The issue of financing health care in Barbados continues to be keenly debated among health care providers and the island’s political leaders.

Recently, services provided at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) have come under the microscope, with calls for the construction of a new hospital.

However, addressing the annual conference of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), Opposition Leader Mia Mottley stressed a new facility could not be afforded at this time, given the current state of the public finances.

“We have had 17 downgrades in our credit rating since 2010. Barbados cannot easily nor cheaply now borrow money on the international market to build buildings for the sake of erecting showpieces,” the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader said.

Mia Mottley
Mia Mottley
Mottley called for increased use of technology to provide health care services.
Mottley called for increased use of technology to provide health care services.

“We can no longer afford these indulgences,” Mottley added. “The point must be made here that Barbados must not today, as the fourth most indebted country in the world, have the luxury of building a new hospital for almost a billion dollars to deliver services, some of which can be sourced from many of you.”

She told the group of medical practitioners that when addressing health care as another aspect of development, “we have to confront the future as it is and not as we would like it to be”. She said the time will come for a new hospital when the country is returned to a sustainable growth path.

“But when we borrow money today, tomorrow to add to our debt, it must be to fulfill the vital public needs like additional operating theatres, like expanding the Accident and Emergency Department, like ensuring that our Surgical and Medical Intensive Care Units are adequate and provide the world-class standards of treatment to match the services of the medical personnel that are working at the hospital. 

“I’ve never been able, forgive me, to accept that we can live in a country and be happy when persons in pain wait for more than a day for treatment in an Accident and Emergency Department, or others would have waited for months and years to get an operation that may not be life-threatening, but significantly affects their quality of life. If we do not want it for ourselves, then how is it good enough for anybody else?” Mottley asked.

She also called for increased strategic partnerships in providing health care services to the public. “If we cannot afford to build a new hospital, then we have to partner with the services that are available in this country, whoever has them, to deliver them to the people of Barbados.

“Strategic partnerships must therefore be expanded and developed that can deliver quality and reliable services at affordable prices. We’ve seen evidence of some of this with partnerships with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Diabetes Foundation, and elements of the private sector.  These efforts must be enhanced.”

Mottley also called for the use of technology and telemedicine to expand the range of services provided to the public.

“We have a duty, equally, in challenging economic environments, to ensure that our existing investments, therefore, made in this country are fully utilised, and that leverage of technology will be critical.  Some are already doing it and I encourage others to significantly expand as a matter of urgency.” 

4 Responses to Mottley’s health prescription

  1. Hal Austin December 3, 2016 at 11:12 am

    This is a good start. We have to choose between the QEH providing a free at the time of need emergency service with a paid for long-term treatment model; this must of necessity include making insurance companies pay foe the hospitalisation of road traffic accident victims; we must put doctors back in charge of managing the hospital and not so-called managers; and health care must be focused on treatment in the community and not at the hospital and clinics.
    The medical profession must also concentrate on changing lifestyles, and not just on charging the highest amount for providing medicines.
    Finally, mental health must be put on par with physical health and not just an add on.

  2. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner December 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

    QEH being awful for many years even when her party govern Barbados for 14 straight years so why the sudden concern guess its part of election campaign 2018.

  3. Patrina Drakes
    Patrina Drakes December 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    If B have an idea share with the D an vice versa lets stop party politics and work together for better Barbados. Some of the polyclinics should be out fitted with the basic equipment that the QEH has in A&E to take some of the pressure off up there. Yes you have fast track but if you go there they say there is for emergency only so some leave and go out by the A&E to be see by a doctor. Maybe fast track should be for non emergency and A&E emergency so if access at A&E and fast track can deal with it instead of another 2 hours sitting at QEH you get transferred to the fast track? Something has to be done cause A&E don’t even have some of the basic things like sterile drapes and they need to have persons monitoring stock cause if a doctor need 30 ml of lidocaine it should not take 4 bottle dregs to get it.I saw this with my two eyes last time I was up there.

  4. Bajan Positve Brian
    Bajan Positve Brian December 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Maybe some of the taxes concessions they gave to the hotels should have been given in return for partial funding of a new hospital.
    Maybe a long term bond with a sinking fund could be used as an option.
    Maybe an international partnership with a teaching hospital could help finance it.
    Maybe we could have it built by another entity and do a lease to own option.
    Maybe we could make the investment to make it an international world class hospital and offer services to the rest of the region to recover the cost of construction and by extension diversify the tourism product.
    I have done healthcare finance for too many years not to know that many ways exist to finance a new hospital, it just takes some strategy and creative thinking.


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