The cash strapped Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) says it is working with a slightly bigger budget this year than last year.
Providing statistics on the health care facility’s performance for the 2016/2017 financial year and an outlook for the current fiscal year, Chief Executive Officer Dr Dexter James pointed out that the approved Budget for the QEH operations for the 2017/2018 was $155 million, about $4 million more than the previous year.
Of that total, the hospital itself will receive $146 million and the Emergency Ambulance Services will receive $3.1 million, while $1.2 million will be allocated to the medical aid scheme and $4.7 million to capital projects.
“With our expected revenues we are expected to generate about $9.5 million for the year. [So] we expect to receive, between all generated set of revenue and the appropriations by Parliament, $165 million,” said James, who was addressing the planning meeting of the QEH board at the Barbados Hilton Resort on Friday.
However, the hospital’s operational costs were about $15.4 million per month or $184.8 million for the just ended financial year.
With an approved budget of only $151.3 million, there was, therefore, a gap of approximately $33.5 million with payroll accounting for $9.6 million per month of the hospital’s budget, medical supplies $1.5 million and maintenance $500,000.
James said that through philanthropic means, the QEH had managed to raise close to $12 million over the last three years to help with its financing, which was “driven principally by an ageing population, the non-communicable diseases, the need for us to keep abreast with technology and the issue of high public expectations.
“That hasn’t waned irrespective of National Social Responsibility Levy,” said James, adding that the “collision of supply and demand forces” was also contributing to a rise in health care costs “out the roof”.
However, he gave an assurance that the QEH would not be compromising on its quality or quantity of care.
“In spite of all of that, we will continue to sustain the package of services that the Barbadian population has come to enjoy. Amidst the situation of increasing health care costs, we will continue to protect the Barbadian population from the consequences of [ill] health and we will use the resources that we have efficiently and equitably. The term that we use today is that we are going to spend wisely and not widely,” said James.
For the period under review, James said the QEH admitted about 18,000 patients and saw about 73,000 patients in the outpatient services. The average length of stay was about 6.1 days.
The hospital performed about 6,000 surgeries and delivered 2,600 babies for the period while the A&E Department saw about 40,000 patients while the Emergency Ambulance Services, which has a fleet of nine ambulances, responded to about 15,000 calls.
Almost 1,000 prescriptions were dispensed per day and about 325,000 meals served.
“The business context in which we are required to operate, we know very shortly within another year or so there will be general elections and therefore there is a lot of anxiety around the whole question of the election itself. We have now operated under a new fiscal arrangement with the Ministry of Finance as it relates to state-owned enterprises and the whole reporting relationship and the need to raise the bar with respect to governance,” said James.
“Our disease profile has remained pretty much constant, the new public health issue resulting from injuries, accidents and violence has now become a new normal that we have to address . . . and of course the cost realities is one that continues to increase,” said James.