Donville Inniss, Minister of Health; ??Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health; Francis Depeiza, QEH Board Chairman (left) and Dr. Dexter James, QEH Chief Executive Officer (right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); announces at a press conference that??construction of a new hospital will??replace the QEH in the near future; yesterday at government headquarters. (A.Miller/BGIS)

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) will be replaced with a new hospital in the near future.

This announcement was made by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, at a post Cabinet press conference held at Government Headquarters yesterday.

Mr. Inniss explained that Cabinet had agreed that a new general hospital would be constructed on the Greenfields, St. Michael, site and, when completed would replace the QEH. He added that a new 600-bed facility would cost in the region of $800 million, for the design phase, and the technological factors.

Mr. Inniss made it clear that financing for the project would be a joint public/private sector initiative and international funding would be sourced. He said that the hospital would be constructed on enough acreage to ensure it would be both aesthetically pleasing and therapeutic, promising that it would "serve the people of Barbados".

The Health Minister disclosed that the proposed new hospital would be one of the largest physical development projects perhaps in the last decade and would have room for expansion, but conceded that "it had to be done". He noted that currently, some $195 million was being spent annually to keep the QEH running and identified inadequate electricity and poor maintenance as issues that had been plaguing the plant over its 47 years of operation.

"The cost of operating the existing Queen Elizabeth Hospital is one that perhaps relates closely to the age of the plant and our inability over the years to maintain it properly. This does not mean that the QEH will, in any way shape or fashion, be neglected. It will be a gradual process. We will not be able to turn the key and open a new general hospital overnight," Mr. Inniss underlined.

Against this background, he stated that the Board, the staff, and the management of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital had been tasked to continue maintaining a good system at the QEH, inspite of the prevailing limitations. Mr. Inniss also disclosed that the operating theatres had been plagued with maintenance issues over the years, and, as a result, four theatres would be closed "for another two weeks or so to effect the necessary changing of parts".

The Health Minister stressed that this state of affairs could not continue ad infinitum. "When things like these happen they place undue pressure on the clinical staff, but, more importantly on those individuals who are waiting for surgery," he affirmed.

The Health Minister continued: "A hospital is much more than a building. And, if we were to move to a new hospital tomorrow, with some of the practices, cultures, norms and behaviours that exist in the current facility, I don’t know that we would have done a lot to improve health care.

"I think that it is extremely important, therefore, that the management of the hospital and the Board of the hospital continue to work with a sense of purpose and haste to ensure that the Queen Elizabeth hospital becomes much more patient friendly. The Ministry of Health has decided that Barbados must have a health information system that covers the entire system starting in the public sector, and we’ve already identified some funding to get that going and we will start with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital."

The QEH has a staff complement of 2,500 employees and it is estimated that some 44,000 persons are treated annually at the facility.


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