The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is in line for a $30 million loan to replenish some of its aged equipment, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has announced.
The overhaul is one of three major projects that she is expected to start this year at the island’s primary healthcare facility to improve treatment and conditions there.
“My own Government recognizes that we have a responsibility even in difficult fiscal times to step up to the plate,” Mottley told a modest gathering at Ilaro Court on Monday, during the launch of the Centre for Paediatric Excellence for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
“Government has taken a decision to be able to ensure that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a whole be the recipient of a $30 million loan to be able to re-equip critical aspects of the hospital equipment infrastructure,” Mottley announced, without giving further details of the loan.
Pointing out that the last upgrade of some equipment was done about a decade or more ago, Mottley said she did not want the country to fall in a similar situation.
“We therefore hope that we are not only giving them the opportunity to reequip but that we will be setting a different standard as to how we treat to the hospital’s needs on an ongoing basis,” she said.
The Prime Minister also announced that Government was committing $3 million “before the end of this fiscal year” in the form of a “special project fund” to help reduce the mortality rate associated with heart attack (or Myocardial infraction), which she said was a regrettable 37 per cent in Barbados and the Caribbean but only eight per cent in developed countries.
“This is an unacceptable figure,” said Mottley.
She said it was therefore critical that Government allocate the funds to help the national hospital to be able to deal with patients in the “shortest possible period of time, which immediately increase their capacity to survive”.
Mottley also highlighted the planned $10 million expansion of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department, for which the money was allocated in June 2018, saying she hoped that work would begin “very shortly”.
She gave the assurance that her administration would continue to hold the hospital accountable for those projects, adding that it was “important that we begin to measure progress against what we invest”.
No clear timeline has yet been given for the expansion of the A&E, which officials first toured in June 2018 when the plans were announced. But officials said there has been a delay.
Executive Chairperson of the QEH, Juliette Sutherland, Bynoe explained that the delay in the expansion of the A&E was due mainly to engineering work that has to be carried out based on careful analysis.
She said a lot of the preliminary work has now been completed and a project team was being put in place.
Bynoe-Sutherland promised there would be ongoing public sensitization, pointing out that the A&E expansion will call for some reconfiguration of the car park in that area.
She said work on the A&E Department would allow for more bed space as well as the strengthening of the capacity of department to deliver the services.
“A part of our planning for the A&E involves expanding staff, expanding bed capacity, [and] expanding the services that are delivered within the A&E. It is an upgrading of the A&E services. It is important,” said Bynoe-Sutherland.