Government has all but placed plans for a new hospital on the back burner, with the focus now on improving the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), according to Minister of Health John Boyce.
Delivering the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) lunchtime lecture at the party’s headquarters at George Street, St Michael Friday, Boyce said financial considerations had made it impossible to set a realistic timeline for a new hospital.
“I keep telling people that the question of a new hospital is always there to be dealt with. The point is when in our pro-financial programme can we afford to take that plunge. You could start and not be able to finish, but the point is when you start on a project like that you want to see it through.
“Even as we plan a new hospital, the point is that we make sure that the institution we have is continually improved so that we can make sure that the services are available,” the minister stressed.
It was only in April of this year that Boyce had told party supporters at a meeting of the DLP St Philip South branch that despite escalating costs, Government was pressing ahead with plans to construct a new medical facility.
He revealed at that meeting that a site visit would have been conducted before the end of April to one of the areas identified “probably the most likely area to approach Cabinet about for the construction of a new hospital”.
At the time he did not identify the area nor did he reveal the projected cost. However, he did say consideration had to be given to how it would be funded.
In an apparent reference to complaints about the state of the QEH, he told today’s audience the hospital’s ability to meet the people’s needs was not dictated by the age of the building, citing as examples, medical facilities in the United States and the United Kingdom that had spanned centuries.
“I do remind people I chat with that some of the hospitals in Britain and United States, the structures are 200 years old, yet the services within the building have been constantly upgraded to meet the needs,” he said.
A year ago, the minister had told Parliament that a lack of financing had delayed construction of a new hospital, while warning the facility would not provide health care free of cost.