The Government of Barbados is considering a special regime to finance health care in the country.
Speaking during debate on the vote for $337 million for the Ministry of Health in Parliament this afternoon, minister responsible John Boyce identified the need for such a system.
“We need to come up with a unique set of measures, which would allow us to inform the financing of health care in Barbados. There are no secrets. There are only two ways really . . . because the state either pays for health completely and entirely by whatever means, or people buy health privately,” the minister stated.
“A mixture of the two or a blending of the two . . . half, half to me is not a new method; it is just a hybrid. So we have maybe two distinct ways in which we can tackle health care, and essentially in Barbados, we have sought to take care of our health and the state essentially paid for it.”
The minister noted that some revenue was derived from charging private patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
He suggested that the $337 million allocated for health across the island has to be carefully managed.
The parliamentary representative for Christ Church South also argued that one should not consider the various cuts in spending on the delivery of health care this year, as destructive to the sector.
“It is not,” asserted the Government MP.
Boyce also tried to factor in the Government’s proposed expansion of its health care offering into the discussion.
“Over this next 12 months, and that is with the opening of the St John Polyclinic, we have deliberately taken funds from other institutions like the Glebe, St Philip Polyclinic and the like, to be able to have our start-up financing for the St John Polyclinic,” he told Parliament.
He said the Government, however, may not be able to roll out all the services from the outset, but the basic services would be provided.
“The provision in the Estimates of $703,000 for the St John Polyclinic is exactly for that. So there is no argument, therefore, where the money is, in terms of the service of the polyclinic.”
Boyce pointed out that a well executed primary health care service with regards to the polyclinic system, would result in a reduction of costs of health care, explaining that “when we move a patient from basic illness, treatable illness, to chronic illness that requires bed time in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we move into a new regime of spending . . . a new regime of cost.”
The minister is of the view that if people could be kept away from the QEH and took care of more cases in the primary system, there would be a win-win situation.
He conceded that while everyone who attended polyclinics was not satisfied, the overall servic was above par.
He felt, too, that there was need for improvement in the management of polyclinics, including the introduction of a balance to the specialities currently available.
The health minister also wanted to see more training and retraining of health care professionals, review of the fast track service and after-hours system at the Winston Scott Polyclinic.
Boyce believed issues such as the appointment system should be tweaked, adding that it was time this country implemented a 24 hour business arrangement.