There is no cause for alarm, said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who also insisted today that the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was not facing a crisis.
Stuart, however, admitted in Parliament that there were challenges facing the state-run institution, some of which, he said, had been there since its inception.
Following an emergency meeting yesterday, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) announced that with immediate effect, QEH would only be performing urgent and emergency surgeries because the medical facility was at a crisis stage and it could not be business as usual.
However, Stuart said while Barbadians should be concerned, he believed the challenges were exaggerated. He said all that was required was “the prudent intervention of the Government to restore order and [ensure] confidence is resumed.”
“I understand that when these things happen, people will be concerned and they should be concerned. But to give the impression that all of a sudden the hospital is falling apart [and] things that are happening there now have never happened before, is just not true. We have always had these challenges at the hospital whether the Democratic Labour Party is in the government or whether the Barbados Labour Party is in the government,” said Stuart.
“I think . . . we need to just cool down a bit. Let’s face the reality that the country has been facing some revenue challenges and has been facing therefore some cash flow challenges. But even when the country is not facing revenue challenges, it has been known to face cash flow challenges . . . I do not accept that the hospital is in any crisis. That is a view that has been expressed by the medical professionals there. I have heard all of this before. Long before some of those professionals who are there talking went there to work,” he added.
Describing the QEH as the best in the region with a very high quality of health care, Stuart said the Government had always responded to the challenges and this time was no different. He said a sum of money had been disbursed to the hospital last week and another set would be disbursed over the coming days.
“I just want to assure the country that there is no need for alarm where the QEH is concerned. The quality of health care ordinarily provided by that institution will continue to be provided,” he said.
“I am very glad that we have dealt with it today. I am very glad the country has had a chance to hear the Opposition and to hear the Government and we can now lay this issue to rest . . . There is no need for public alarm. Barbados is safe and people are free to get on with their life,” said Stuart, before a motion was moved for the House to be adjourned until next Tuesday. The motion was carried.