By Shamar Blunt
Former acting Director of Medical Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Clyde Cave believes that the facility has not changed sufficiently with the times to be able to help interns cope with their workload.
“The duties of ‘on-call’ doctors in many departments at the QEH have evolved over the past decades. The workload is now closer to a full shift than to being available for a few emergencies,” Dr Cave explained.
“The system has not effectively responded to this, I think in large part because it would be expensive to hire more doctors to accomplish the same work that is being done now. Of course, this false economy is at the expense of quality and working conditions.”
His comments came in response to recent calls by Government Senator Dr Crystal Haynes and consultant physician at the QEH and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of West Indies Cave Hill Campus Dr Kenneth Connell, for the practice of having junior doctors working more than 30 hours per shift to be abolished.
Dr Cave, who was also the former Internship Coordinator at the QEH, told Barbados TODAY that though the institution has changed over the years to better meet the healthcare needs of Barbadians, the system has not responded effectively to better manage the duties of the young doctors.
He also explained that the training hours for interns have also increased over the years in keeping with the demands of the healthcare industry.
“For interns, their apprenticeship is more than just a matter of hours of duty, though that is important too. Mentorship, continuity of care, experience, acquisition of expertise and development of clinical judgment are essential to their professional growth to be eligible for full registration by the Medical Council of Barbados,” noted the respected paediatric consultant.
Dr Clyde stressed however, that simply hiring more doctors will not be enough. Instead, the entire system needs to be re-examined to be able to promote a “culture of patient-centred efficiency” at the healthcare institution.
“The solution, as I see it, is beyond just extra posts, though that is clearly needed. All functions at the hospital would have to operate beyond 8 – 4, and a culture of patient-centred efficiency be promoted. This would entail review and possible reassignment of traditional medical chores with appropriate support from technology and an expanded healthcare team.”