Barbados’ “favourite political football”, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has been “badly managed” and “grossly underfunded”.
And instead of building a new hospital, government needs to give the hospital “a serious infusion of money”.
That’s the view of Senator Professor Henry Fraser, whose name was synonymous with the island’s main health care institution for several decades.
“Having been the pride of Barbados and of Caribbean health care throughout the 70s and the 80s, let’s be frank: It has been badly managed! And let’s be even more frank: It has been grossly underfunded!” the independent senator said this morning during the Estimates Debate. Fraser said the QEH had suffered badly and was the “victim of differential priorities, indifferent views and a great deal of political wrangling”.
“I produced a report for the first QEH board showing the tragic way that QEH funding has been frozen and barely moved from back around 1980 at various times. It remained at virtually the same sum, around $70 million, for several years, while the polyclinics were improved, the money had to be found for them, and the graph of funding for the QEH over the next 20 years until the board was installed was something like Two Mile Hill, sloped, while the cost of living and everything else in Barbados went up steeply like Horse Hill,” he recalled.
“And the dramatic gap between the cost of living and the cost of everything … and the QEH budget was frankly disastrous, and so that by the time the board came in place 10 years ago or so, given the task of making bricks from straw, given no money after some debate and persuasion that $25 million could be loaned and it took forever to even draw down that loan.
“But the short fall was so far more than the budget sometimes throughout the period over the turn of the century. You had a budget which was cut and the shortfall was now doubling the actual budget and so the sad saga since the transition to a board I have to say is too big a saga to cover today,” he added.
Fraser said it was also his “greatest relief” that there was no mention of a new hospital in the 2013-2014 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which he called “our traditional, usual cyclical pre-election promise”.
“We don’t need a new hospital because we have got to provide efficient, life saving care for our population for the next several years and therefore to provide the critical things that the QEH needs, some of which are being worked on now, like new intensive care and so on, requires a serious infusion of money,” he said. (SC)