Barbadians were tonight assured that Government is addressing the shortage of medical supplies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
Minister of Health John Boyce said dialogue with all concerned parties, including doctors, was progressing to fix the situation.
“The question of medical supplies . . . has been dealt with, it is being dealt with,” he said as he opened debate on health in the 2015/2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
“I know confidently that those negotiations are taking place. I know that the dialogue and the priority setting between the management of the hospital and the doctors who deliver health care in the hospital . . . continues and it is important that it does and I dont want to stand in the way of that dialogue. It is open dialogue between the professionals who have a job to do and they must be allowed to do their jobs to the best of their ability,” he told the House of Assembly.
In recent months, doctors have publicly expressed concern about lack of vital supplies to treat patients at the QEH. Late last year, they said they woud only be dealing with emergency cases because they did not have enough medical supplies to handle other cases.
However, Boyce insisted that the Government was on top of the situation.
“Where resources are required we as a Government are responsible to provide these resources and where they are short, we as a Government must stand ready to bear criticism and explain why those may be in that state,” he said.
“[Free health care] has been traditionally funded directly from the Consolidated Fund but . . . we have reached the stage where these shortages at the hospital, and indeed anywhere else in the health care system, must be identified and corrective action taken.”
At the same time, the Health Minister said the time had come to consider starting an “investment fund” for the sector.
“I believe that the debate in Barbados has reached the stage where we are ready to entertain some kind of contributory investment health care fund which would see to the provision, on an annual basis, of some of the urgent and important supplies at the hospital. This is absolutely urgent especially in today’s technological world,” Boyce said.
“We are faced at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital today with a situation where we purchase equipment today and in two years time/three years time that equipment is obsolete . . . The other reality is that the professionals cannot really perform their work without that kind of equipment so it is essential and it cannot be avoided if we are going to be able to continue offering the kind of health care that we have become accustomed to,” Boyce explained.