The following is a short discussion with President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) Dr. Linda Williams (Epidemiologist). Dr. Natasha Sobers ( Epidemiologist) from the UWI, Cave Hill and Senior Economic Advisor to the government Dr. Kevin Greenidge – Head of the CBC TV 8 Sanka Price lead the discussion supported by Head of News at Voice of Barbados Stetson Babb.
Submitted by Anthony Davis
‘’Warning that the unavailability of essential medical supplies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has reached a crisis of the highest order, doctors at the state-run health care facility have decided to handle emergency cases only. And they have called on Government to not only state unequivocally how it plans to fund the QEH in the short, medium and long term, but also to ‘explain the measures they will take to restore the broken supply chain …” – Barbados TODAY 28 November, 2014
So what’s new?
It seems to me that the QEH only gets a bit of money if the doctors come to the public and complain about the dire straits in which our primary health care institution is. This is the second time in less than six months this has happened.
Has the administration of that institution not learnt anything?
Are we at a stage where the Minister of Finance will have to find money for the QEH every six months, instead of funding it properly?
Barbadian expectations were raised when the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) switched from being a department of government in 2002 to being run by a statutory board. We were convinced by the then government that the autonomy of a board was just what the doctor ordered for the QEH.
Successive governments have had to battle many challenges when asked to manage our premiere health institution. To read the full-page ad which was placed by BAMP in the weekend newspapers detailing yet another conflict with the Board of the QEH would not have registered on the cognitive index of the vast majority of Barbadians. We have come to expect it. One is left to wonder why the industrial relations climate at the QEH always seem to ring of a discordant note.
Based on what BU has observed over the years the problems at the QEH are many and solutions difficult. The question which has to be asked is whether healthcare delivery is now being compromised as a result of unresolved issues between doctors and Board which have been outstanding for too long. BU’s sense is that there is a hardening of positions at the QEH. According to our sources the junior doctors especially are being asked to work extremely long hours which means there is no work life balance and a 12 hour day is not uncommon. A spirit of cooperation which was part of a now distant culture has reversed to the detriment of the patient. As if this isn’t enough some in the know believe the quality of Interns entering the QEH in recent times is inferior compared to that of old.
Barbados has always prided itself on its standard of healthcare delivery, the unsettled industrial climate at the QEH over time is beginning to undermine it all.
The question which Barbadians can legitimately asked is whether the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) has a Public Relations Officer, and if that officer is trained in the discipline of public relations. The other question which can be posed, is BAMP a trade union and does it believe – by its decisions – in maintaining a good industrial climate? Why is it relations between BAMP and the government always go down the acrimonious route more often than not? Why is there a perennial stridency in the dialogue between BAMP and all and sundry or so it seems to John Public. When Doctor Jerome Walcott was Minister of Health it did not seem to make a difference.
From the public’s perspective the current behaviour on display is not good enough and parties on both sides of the argument need to act more responsibly. Frankly we do not care who feels they have a legitimate grouse.
BAMP is within its right to call a meeting to discuss whatever it believes is of concern to its membership. The Minister of Health is within his right to question why BAMP would schedule a meeting at a time to ensure disruption to Barbadians seeking medical attention. Where both are guilty is dragging the matter in the public domain. It seems highly unprofessional and insensitive to the public both parties should be committed to serving.
The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) is a union which is feared in Barbados. It does not matter how rich or well-positioned socially, the fear of not having a doctor available to attend to an unexpected malady will strike fear in the hearts of most. In this regard BAMP in the opinion of BU has exploited their position of influence through the years to the point where renaming the association the Barbados Association of Medical Untouchables maybe more appropriate.
The current impasse between BAMP and the QEH Board caused in the main by the non renewal of contracts of two long serving consultants is the latest in the woes of the sole public hospital, once a symbol of excellence in healthcare delivery in the region. The release of Head of Department of Radiology Dr. Rambarat based on media reports was because of inefficiency. Today’s press quotes Rambarat’s colleagues questioning non delivery of CT scans to facilitate the best healthcare delivery. It is interesting that the concerns about the lack of CT scans should come from Dr. Carlos Chase the head of BAMP and Dr. Harish Thani the head of Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department.