Once the necessary funds are available, plans to build a new hospital will push ahead.
However, Minister of Health John Boyce has sought to warn Barbadians that the new facility would not be able to provide health care free of cost.
Speaking today in the House of Assembly, Boyce said the new hospital would have to be able to sustain itself.
“The final decision will definitely be tied into the outcome of our discussions on health care financing, because any new facility must be able to sustain itself,” Boyce told the House.
“We cannot, as has been the thinking all the while, up until now, [continue thinking] that we were going to spend $500 million US to build a hospital to offer free health care to everyone in Barbados.”
“I have no doubt that a new hospital will roll out in Barbados in the not too distant future, but the financing and the actual design and operations of that hospital will have to be a mixture of public and private sector investment,” he warned.
Boyce said the main reason for the delay in the project was a lack of finances.
“I think that it is reasonable to explain to the country that given the financial situation, this project is not off the cards but it has been reduced in terms of its priority,” Boyce said.
“So we still have a committee who meet from time to time to consider this project,” he said.
In the meantime, the Minister said the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) had benefited from a $60 million loan, which was used to recapitalize its operations.
“This recapitalization has done very well and it certainly has quieted the noises in respect to the infrastructural situation at the hospital.
“The loan was for the purpose of replacing worn and obsolete equipment, to rehabilitate the plant and to facilitate the reorganization of services and departments,” Boyce explained.
The Minister said upgrading the hospital’s electrical department was a crucial part of the loan, and he estimated it had cost in the region of $23 million to fix.
Boyce revealed that funds were also used to create a High Dependency Unit – a new department now being used to keep those patients who were unable to be housed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“This was conceptualized as a response to the increasing volume of patients requiring intensive care, but for whom there was inadequate capacity in the intensive care and recovery rooms.”
He said they had also replaced some 250 beds, and had made improvements to the cafeteria area.