Get your act together!
That was the message Democratic Labour Party (DLP) spokesperson on health Paul Gibson delivered to management at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) which has still not been able to address the issues stemming from a cyber attack two months ago.
He cried shame on the institution for the length of time it was taking to get some systems back online since the December 12, 2022 incident.
During an interview with members of the media on Friday, Gibson said he was still receiving complaints from residents about being unable to have some medical procedures done as some services had not yet been restored.
QEH officials said in their latest update statement last month that an IT team led by the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology in collaboration with local and international experts had been working to ensure that the requisite level of cybersecurity protection is in place before systems are restored.
“The goal is to make the hospital’s cyber security systems more robust to reduce the likelihood of a future incident,” it said.
Gibson expressed disappointment that there was no proper backup IT system in place for the island’s premier health facility in the first place.
“It came to light when this [cyber attack] occurred. They didn’t have anything to refer back to, which again is a very serious indictment on the management of the QEH and the fact that they are not taking responsibility for a very sensitive and critical area into protecting the data of Barbadians,” Gibson charged.
The QEH’s Executive Chairman Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland last month gave the assurance that patient information was not compromised and there was no evidence that medical records were accessed during the cyber attack.
Gibson also took the management of the QEH to task over the vexing issue of long wait times at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department, which recently underwent renovation and expansion to the tune of just over $13 million.
He said that while the wait should not exceed four hours, “we are now at 48/49 hours”.
Stressing that he was not prepared to let go of the issue, Gibson said he was aware that an assessment was done but no results have been made public to date.
While Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness with responsibility for the QEH, Dr Sonia Browne has denied that the health facility had run out of some items, including gauze, Gibson questioned the procurement procedures, saying that systems should be in place to ensure supplies did not run low.
“You have to create situations that flag critical items in your system. You can’t run out. Things just don’t run out. That [would be] a dereliction of duty,” the pharmacist said, noting that too many people were still waiting to get surgeries done.
In addition to pointing to complaints about a lack of paediatric surgeries, the DLP spokesman claimed there were people who had tumours that were progressing because surgeries were not being done on a timely basis.
He gave the Mia Mottley-led administration a failing grade for the running of the public health sector, stating that government funds were not being put to good use.
“With all the borrowing that is going on, money is not being sent to its centres where it should be done. We bought buses and 17 of them are not working and we are getting ready to buy another 10 and yet children can’t get surgeries and you don’t have supplies at the hospital. So the question is, where is the focus, are we building a legacy or are we taking care of Barbadians? We need to take a stern look at this,” said Gibson. (MM)