Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) spokesman Dwight Sutherland today demanded to know the final cost of the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex in Glebe Land, St John.
Speaking during debate in Parliament on a $1.88 million supplementary to support final payment for construction work, Sutherland called on Minister of Health John Boyce to provide answers.
He noted that prior to the opening of the medical complex in late 2015, Government had announced that the cost was “under $30 million” even though the project was earlier estimated at $23 million in 2015 when it was about 95 per cent complete.
“The minister needs to tell the honourable House what is the final cost of this project,” said Sutherland, while suggesting that the project could be considered a major cost overrun.
However Boyce, who led the debate, did not give any idea of the final cost of the polyclinic but pointed out that even though Parliament had previously approved $4.4 million in payments for the health project, the Ministry of Finance had only guaranteed $2.5 million.
“So obviously . . . we would have to come back to the Chamber for the remainder, and that is exactly what we are doing today,” he explained, while assuring that the polyclinic was serving its intended purpose, having catered to 1,100 patients in September this year.
However, Sutherland was still unhappy with the performance of the island’s health system.
Today, he described the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) as “overburdened”, adding that it was “being poorly led by the honourable member for Christ Church South [Minister of Health John Boyce]”.
“The reality is that we need our polyclinics to be more efficient. We need to stop firefighting in the primary health care facilities and find creative ways to manage our systems better,” Sutherland said, while stressing that “the polyclinics must be so structured that they take a load off, and assist the premier health care institution that is QEH.
“That is the whole purpose of the polyclinics. And we must move to a state Mr Chairman, urgently, where we need to provide the resources to open at least two polyclinics over a 24-hour period. That is where we need to go.”
The Opposition spokesman further suggested that a town hall meeting be held where citizens could help decide which two of the nine polyclinics could offer around-the-clock service, including minor surgeries, x-rays, as well as an asthma bay, in order to take some of the pressure off the QEH’s Accident & Emergency Department.