Barbados: Shadow Spokesman of Health, Paul Gibson of Democratic Labour Party stated infrastructure is mandatory to promote Medical Tourism.
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) waited with bated breath to hear if the topic of hazard pay would be discussed in the Estimates Debates in 2021 to 2022.
The minister of health indicated that front-line workers would be given hazard pay for their invaluable service over the past year.
Despite the assurance made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that all employees who qualified would receive hazard pay, workers at local polyclinics have been forgotten, and it has raised the ire of workers.
The DLP’s shadow minister of health said, “the Ministry of Health made payments to workers in the administrative level of the Ministry of Health first, then the Queen Elizabeth Hospital made payments to their hardworking staff members, Yet the polyclinic staff nurses, pharmacist, Medical Records Technologist, and auxiliary staff have not yet been able to receive hazard pay.”
Gibson added that nurses and doctors at the polyclinics around the island have been administering vaccinations and treating patients in the COVID-19 pandemic environment and are deserving of hazard pay.
“Many of the nurses and doctors at the polyclinics performed additional duties, as they managed the COVID 19 vaccination campaign on top of their already demanding day-to-day treatment of patients. Thus, I believe they are more than deserving of being considered for hazard pay,” he said.
A pharmacist by profession, Gibson also called on the Mia Mottley administration to pay the personnel working directly with COVID 19. Reports have surfaced that the COVID 19 watchdogs have not yet been paid the monies owed to them.
I referenced the total Government spending for 2019-2020 as $301 million, while $318,000,000 was projected. The Estimate for 2021-2022 has been placed at $380,103,000.
Despite this, Gibson argued that if the polyclinics meet the mandated objectives, they may need to have a larger budget. The current budget proposed does not allow any wiggle room for the goals highlighted by the MOH to be achieved.
“Of course, an assessment was made of the spend for polyclinics versus the previous year, and it was observed that to make the polyclinics the first port of call for Barbadians seeking primary healthcare, additional funds are required,” he said.
Adding that for the ministry to meet objectives three and four of their mandate, to fully integrate the polyclinics into the health sector, they would need to understand a more comprehensive budget.
“There needs to be laboratory facilities, increased personnel, increased materials and supplies as well as an increased need for the use of an electronic medical record system that is fully integrated across the polyclinics and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Unless all these necessary things are considered, the integration of the polyclinics will fail,” Gibson noted.
Besides, he noted that if the government did not assess the cost of making the polyclinics into a fully integrated part of the health sector, the Minister of Health would have to constantly ask for supplementals to fund the additional costs that will be attributed to the industry.
Gibson said that while the government has promised to expand the Accident and Emergency Facility, it is essential to note that the significant issue is the overcrowding and the lack of beds.
“With the expansion of the A&E Department, efforts should have been made to secure additional space or wards which are managed by nurse nursing staff, orderly staff and doctors that would assist in the decompression of the accident and emergency facility.
Thereby, offering a smoother running of the department would reduce the frustration that Barbadians experience waiting for beds on new wards at the QEH.
The wait for beds in the only state-owned hospital turns into days and sometimes weeks for some Barbadians and represents a matter that was not addressed in the new facility at the A&E Department or in building a recent accident and Emergency Department,” he said.
Moreover, Gibson noted the government should seek to have the infrastructure in place for Medical Tourism.
“We would have hoped as well that the government, as they are seeking to generate new wealth for the country, would put in place a medical tourism model.
This model would have medical centres of excellence in the Caribbean and offer persons within the region first world standard medical care, first world medical facilities, first world family accommodation and thereby allowing Barbados to earn some much-needed foreign reserves by having the industry adequately formulated.”