While the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be making cuts in a number of areas, Minister of Health, John Boyce, has reassured Barbadians that patient care will not be one of them.

He made the comments after a tour of the hospital yesterday with Somoan Minister of Health, Dr. Tuitama Talalelei Tuitama, who was on the island attending the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting at the Hilton Barbados for the Third International Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS which will be hosted next year in Samoa ??? a group of islands in the South Pacific.

Mr. Boyce said that Government was looking to reduce the cost of operating the hospital by tackling wastage and improving upon the services offered with ???efficiencies???. In addition, he pointed out that a big part of the focus going forward would be to ???strictly manage??? the QEH???s labour deployment programme in an effort to save money.

The Health Minister emphasised that the $35 million cut to the hospital???s budget would not affect the construction currently being carried out in a number of departments including the Eye Care Clinic, the Cardiac Unit and the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU).

???They are all on stream, these are projects that are well on the way. The Cardiac Unit is due for delivery in November, [and] the MICU in October ??? I don???t anticipate any problems with the projects???This is really continuing to maintain the state-of-the-art service that we offer at the QEH in terms of the delivery of healthcare on the island,??? Mr. Boyce explained.

He disclosed that a new hospital was still being considered and that interest was being expressed which ???would be taken on board when the time comes???. However, the Minister pointed out that such a facility would be ???five years down the road??? since it would take that long for it to go from the design stage to construction and implementation.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tuitama said he was impressed with the services offered by the QEH, a level of health care which, he pointed out that, his country had to aspire to.

???I am really quite amazed at the extent of the service that you are offering in this hospital. We are not yet quite there at the level of health care delivery you are offering in this hospital. A 600-bed hospital is not an easy task for any Government or any country to manage. And, knowing the number of people that come through here every year??? I???ve been told that about 22,000 people pass through these doors at the outpatient department, 20,000 at the eye clinic, [and] I am sure there are plenty more for the other specialised services that you are offering.

???I have also witnessed the extensions to your already big hospital through the improvement of the Cardiac Unit. By the look of it, the quality of service will be very much improved. The Eye Clinic is something to comment about ??? these are the services that we are not able to offer in our country due to the smallness of our nation and also because of our hospital capacity. We don???t have the expertise by way of specialists available in our own country to conduct these services, so we send our patients to New Zealand which is the nearest centre where these services can be conducted,??? he said, adding that this cost his government approximately $10 million a year.

Dr. Tuitama also praised the quality of maintenance work and upgrades being carried out at the hospital and quipped that if the Government of Barbados had plans to build a new hospital it should ???ship [the QEH] over to us so we may be able to continue our service because it is still quite a very functional hospital???.


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