Layoffs are coming to the state-owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
The hospital’s chairman Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland gave notice of this today during Parliament, when pressured by Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley on whether cuts were coming to the island’s major medical institution.
Speaking before the Standing Finance Committee, Atherley asked whether there was any truth to rumours that 150 staff members at Barbados’ only public hospital would be sent home. He said the reports had sparked fear and panic among the QEH’s 2,100 employees.
While Bynoe-Sutherland refuted the figure that has been circulating, she admitted that jobs would be lost as government continues its retrenchment exercise.
However, she did not indicate which departments would be affected by the cuts.
“At present, it is unfortunate that that perception is out there that we are laying off a very specific number of persons, but the reality is that as a hospital we recognize that we have to do some staff rationalization,” the chairman said.
“ . . . So we are going to have to undergo a very systematic exercise looking critically at the staffing levels of the hospital, and we do anticipate that there will be give-and-take increases and contraction in some areas and we are going to do so in a responsible way.
“But I can say to you there is no magic figure that is existing upon high that we have ventilated and we’re planning to implement or inflict on the staffing of the hospital,” she assured.
The chairman maintained that there was an urgent need to re-look the way in which the QEH operated.
She said there were some aspects of the operations that had not been altered in over three decades and changes were required to increase the efficiency and sustainability of the hospital.
“So we have areas in the hospital where we are understaffed and under resourced and areas where we may be overstaffed and we can be better served in terms of being cost effective with outsourcing the service [and] entering into public-private partnerships. There are lots of areas we can look at critically to better manage the resources of the hospital,” Bynoe-Sutherland conceded.
“In terms of demands for services at the hospital, we have a situation where . . . the number of doctors in various specialities within the hospital has not changed for over 30 years, yet the disease epidemiological profile of the country has changed,” she added.
The QEH is the latest state-run organization to be hit with layoffs under the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mia Mottley warned of more job losses to come as Government moved into Phase 3 of the four-year long programme.
At the time, she said that about 1,000 people had already been sent home. [email protected]