It has been deemed “discriminatory” against the rest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
However, the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) said today it would be sticking to its current health policy, at least for the time being, while it awaits legal advice on claims by one regional researcher that it could wind up with another “Shanique Myrie situation” on its hands.
Delivering a lecture here last week, Kai-Ann D. Skeete, a research fellow at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill, warned that the Barbados Government’s policy of charging CARICOM citizens higher fees than its own nationals for accessing medical care at the QEH was in contravention of Article 7 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which governs CARICOM.
And highlighting the recent Myrie case in which the Jamaican national successfully sued the Freundel Stuart administration for breaching her right as a CARICOM national to freely enter the country, Skeete warned that the current health care “discrimination” on the basis of nationality could yield a similar response.
However, in response the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer told Barbados TODAY: “The regulations that govern our operations are what I am working with right now . . . outside of that, I can’t say too much more. I am still getting advice on it [fee discrimination]”.
Concern about the high cost of health care for CARICOM nationals comes at a time when Government is said to be going after more medical business from the 15-nation grouping.
Skeete has taken note of a schedule in the QEH Act which sets out that CARICOM nationals must pay higher fees than Barbadians, while cautioning that “there are other agreements that Barbados is signed on to with other third countries which allow them to have more access to health services than CARICOM nationals”.