A renowned Barbadian physician is recommending the establishment of a national health service (NHS), similar to the one in the United Kingdom, to assist the rapidly aging population who require health care.
Sir Errol Walrond, a founding member of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), and Professor Emeritus of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, said the rising cost of health care, coupled with the difficulty in maintaining a health insurance scheme, made it necessary for Government to establish an NHS to help the elderly.
“I believe that one thing a government can do well or cheaply is to organize a kind of national health service through our existing general practitioners for people over 65 years old who are either dependent on fixed salaries or have no income at all,” Sir Errol told BAMP’s inaugural annual lecture.
He said recommendations for the establishment of such a health service dated back to the 1980s when then Prime Minister Tom Adams established a steering committee to explore the possibilities.
However, he said, after a series of meetings and the presentation of papers, including one from BAMP, Government decided against it.
The physician said one of the hurdles at the time was insufficient general practitioners (GP) to effectively service the scheme.
“They were going to ask for one GP to look after over 5,000 patients, which was much higher than the British standard of 3,000. We proposed that we could start it as a pilot and try to build up the number of local GPs, which I believe we have done over the years.
“I think the over-65 service is still an option we can consider, as this sector is the most vulnerable and generates the most headlines about the QEH, such as elderly people being left at the hospital because there is no one to look after them. With such a service in place you can avoid these situations,” the eminent physician said.
The UK’s health scheme, which was launched in 1948, provides free health care at the point of use for all UK residents, with the exception of some charges such as prescriptions, optical services and dental services.
It’s overall budget in 2015/16 was £116.4 billion (Bds$315.3 billion), £101.3 billion (Bds$274.4 billion) of which was managed by NHS England.