Enough ambulances, says James
Chief executive officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Dr Dexter James says Barbados’ fleet of 11 ambulances is adequate to service the needs of the quarter million-plus population.
He was adamant about this on Friday when St Lucy Member of Parliament Peter Phillips’ asked questions about the efficiency of the emergency ambulance service in the context of the challenges faced by people in the northernmost parish in relation to getting a quick response.
Phillips wanted to know whether there were “any plans to increase the number of ambulances”, but both James and Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic insisted there were enough ambulances to service the island.
Instead, the two health officials attributed difficulties associated with response to the shortage of beds.
Bostic explained there was a domino effect when patients transported to the hospital by ambulance were forced to remain on the ambulance stretcher in the corridors of the Accident & Emergency Department for long periods, rendering the ambulance temporarily inoperable as a result.
The hospital director supported this argument.
“We have a good complement of ambulances, I would suggest,” James said, as he reported there is a fleet of 11 and one rapid response vehicle which records indicated responded to 12 000 calls annually.
And he insisted the ambulance service could not be improved “unless we solve the issue of bed space at the QEH”.
Phillips also suggested decentralisation of ambulance services and recommended that an ambulance be stationed at the St Lucy District Hospital that could also be available to service the neighbouring parishes of St Peter and St Andrew.
But James countered that saying: “We believe that decentralisation is perhaps not the best option based on the core responses in the data that we have.”
He suggested consideration could be given to a roving alternative “which allows us to station an ambulance in an area where there is the likelihood that there is going to be an accident”.
He also told of plans by the Ministry of Health, in its 24-hour arrangement for the polyclinic, to have an ambulance stationed at the St John Polyclinic.
“So, roving is perhaps the option of choice if at all we are going to spread the existing fleet to be able to improve response time,” said the hospital director.
Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic (FP)
CEO of the Queen Elisabeth Hospital,
Dr Dexter James. (FP)