Minister of Health John Boyce is warning that Barbados must get a handle on its rising health care costs to ensure it remains accessible to ordinary Barbadians.
Minister Boyce said the challenge remains how to establish a sustainable health financing model to ensure the entire population receives the best care at an affordable price.
Delivering the feature address at Bayview Hospital’s 25th anniversary dinner and awards at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on the weekend, he said consultations would soon take place with interest groups.
“Even as we seek to give Barbadians greater assurance of continuous improvements in our health care system, we must not inadvertently create a financial challenge for future generations. This is why it is important to continue the thrust to find a sustainable solution for financing health care in Barbados,” he said, explaining that the cost has risen significantly in the past years due, in part, to more advanced medical treatment and technologies.
“The ministry is currently in the process of preparing proposals for the reform of the health financing system and it is expected that consultations with stakeholders, including private stakeholders like Bayview Hospital, will take place in the very near future.”
Boyce disclosed plans to meet this week with representatives of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners.
“The challenges we face include demographic changes such as increases in the dependency ratio, technological pressures from expensive new drugs and devices, higher population expectation and, of course, increasing budgetary pressures,” he noted.
Meantime, chairman of the board of directors Dr Jerome Walcott believes the hospital, which is receiving a $5 million cash injection from its new owners, would be well poised to position Barbados as a medical tourism destination.
“Barbados needs all the help it can get in providing sound medical services and health care to its citizens,” he noted.
He said further, “I believe the integrated, collaborative approach to owning, managing and sharing medical facilities is an essential component in seriously positioning Barbados as a medical tourism sector.”
Former board chairman Dr Agatha Scholar-Shepherd, who is herself celebrating 25 years of practicing gynaecology and obstetrics, advised the new owners to address the public perception that Bayview “is a cottage hospital and that if anything goes wrong patients [would] have to be transferred to QEH”.
“This has hampered in a sense the types of patients we treat at Bayview. Still, in spite of this, Bayview has held its own over the years,” she said with pride.
Scholar-Shepherd suggested that the owners focus on bringing the privately-operated hospital up to international standards, among other things.