CEO sees better days for QEH
Health care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH)should show some improvement if the measures in Government’s Mini-Budget are realised, says that institution’s chief executive officer Dr Dexter James.
“This Government . . . has articulated policies that we have been advocating for the last seven or eight years [such as] the need for a new model of health care financing that has become a reality,” said James, referring to the new health service contribution (HSC).
In her Mini-Budget, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced that a HSC of 2.5 per cent would be levied on insurable earnings effective October 1, with 1.5 per cent of it to be paid by employers and one per cent by employees. This tax is projected to raise $45 million in a full fiscal year to support the operations of the cash-starved QEH.
Mottley also announced that the Randall Phillips Polyclinic in Oistins, Christ Church, and Winston Scott Polyclinic in Jemmotts Lane, The City, will be upgraded for about $3 million and will function on a 24-hour basis. This, the Prime Minister said, would take the burden off the QEH’s Accident & Emergency Department (A&E), which will receive an $11 million upgrade to raise its standards to deliver the highest quality of health care Barbados can provide.
Move in the right direction
James intimated these measures were a move in the right direction. He said the additional $45 million funding would reduce the QEH’s reliance on the Government’s Consolidated Fund and provide the financial resources necessary to sustain services at the Martindales Road institution, which annually needs approximately $200 million to provide its services.
Secondly, the longer hours for the polyclinics should see fewer non-urgent cases going to the A&E, which should allow the department to deal with emergencies and very serious cases, as it was intended to do. That would mean shorter waiting times for the critically ill.
“The Budget measures will have significant implications for the public health system, and the transformation that will occur will see a shift in access to primary care services from the hospital to the polyclinics. This is what extending the existing hours of the polyclinic will achieve, once there are diagnostics and dispensing capabilities,” said James.
He said though Barbados was going through tough times, “from where I sit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we have been able to maintain the level and quality of services to the public even in these times of austerity”.
In response to widespread concerns that he is set to leave Barbados’ lone tertiary health facility, James said he continued to discharge his responsibilities as CEO and was exceedingly pleased at the changes announced in the recent Budget and relished the challenges ahead.
“As such, I have not resigned from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” James said.(SP)