Minister of Health John Boyce has reported that good management at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has placed the facility on course for cost savings this year.
He insisted last night at a Democratic Labour Party Christ Church South branch meeting that the cuts do not affect patient care.
“I am satisfied that given what comes to me, and certainly what information I have been able to glean from meetings with the board of directors of the hospital, with the management of the hospital, that we’ve been able to keep a fairly steady ship over the last year,” he told the audience at the St Lawrence Primary School.
“I am satisfied that we are on a trajectory to significant savings this year in terms of the direct spending at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but this saving must come with a clear appreciation that we do not want to see any deterioration of services. We do not want to see any loss of expertise of specialist procedures which are available.”
The minister’s positive outlook for the hospital comes some three months after the facility was saddled with $22 million in arrears to suppliers.
Boyce praised some staff for the trimming of expenses.
“It is a clear indication of the kind of work being done by the consultants and the nurses at the hospital to ensure that the services are the best that we can offer,” he told party faithful.
He highlighted improved services being offered at the eye clinic as an example of the hospital’s forward movement.
“We’ve had tremendous progress over the past year. We’ve had improvements in ophthalmology. We’ve opened an ophthalmologist suite which is now doing all kinds of eye procedures and the facts are that, as far as I am aware, no Barbadians – if at all, very few – are now travelling to Cuba to have their eyes looked at. And all that work is being transacted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with our specialists doctors,” he said.
Acknowledging the long wait to gain access to that service, Boyce countered that waiting lists exist worldwide.
“The truth is there has been a waiting list in Canada too, there is also a waiting list in Britain, there is a waiting list all over the world. If you are going to pay a private physician to carry out the procedure, you can have it done tomorrow, depending on the situation. But if you are looking for the normal operation where we say we’re serving the public, and where we’re guaranteeing universal health coverage for all Barbadians, there tends to be a waiting list for public patients.”