Recently, the British intellectual and journalist, Will Hutton, asked the question: “How do you successfully break a mistaken and destructive intellectual consensus?” It set me off immediately thinking of the cosy social world and the mental processes in which the political, professional and academic elites in Barbados conspire to converge on the same ideas, which are implemented in much the same way, often by the same people – and, no matter which party is in control, they all expect different results.
Two ideas come to mind: the break of the consensus by the attorney general on the silly and ill-advised decision to plant taxpayers’ money in to the Four Seasons project, which he rightly sees as a private investment which should be let to private investors. The other is equally as irresponsible, the decision to build a spanking new Bds$800m hospital in Kingsland. Both ideas are loopy and reveal the poverty of our policy-making, especially when it comes to major capital projects.
First, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, opened to the public in 1963, which competent and firm management cannot sort out. What patients are complaining about are issues such as time-wasting, spending hours before being seen by a doctor in Accidents and Emergencies, of under-productive nurses spending time on the wards talking to each other while surgical patients are in pain and crying out for help, over-paid and arrogant, sometimes even questionably competent, doctors being on the public payroll while spending their time looking after their private patients. The list goes on. So, to the ordinary man and woman in the street, the real problem at the QEH is not the building, although that us falling apart, but what goes on inside the building.