EDITORIAL: Fix the QEH!
LIKE others who have expressed condolences at the recent passing of photographer Antonio Miller while being a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), we too want to convey similar sentiments on the death of the 46-year-old photographer.
This newspaper has benefited from the work of Miller while he was employed at the Barbados Government Information Service (GIS). Several of his photos would have been passed on to us through the GIS, accompanying their news releases as is the tradition of that Department. Also while on news assignments for the GIS, Miller would also interfaced with news personnel, including those from the Barbados Advocate.
However, his death and a widely circulated piece about him, came at a very interesting time as it relates to the QEH. Quite recently there has been intense debates about a new appointment at the hospital – a development that has reached deep into the politics of the country.
What this newspaper has been able to conclude from the debates is that there remains serious issues at that health care institution, which call for urgent attention. The situation there is depressing and disturbing and regardless therefore of the spin being put to the place, Barbadians are quite aware that these problems did not originate overnight, but rather had been festering for decades.
We know that successive governments have sought to ensure that the QEH is given the resources it requires to carry out its services. This has always been the case. When at anytime an attempt is made by government to cut allocations to the QEH, it is met with stern opposition.
The Budgetary Estimates for the current financial year are noted. They indicated allocations of $129.5 million for the QEH. Forward estimates for 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 are given as $139.5 million and $168.3 million respectively. The Approved Estimates for 2018-2019 were $149.2 million.
These Budget measures are captioned under the heading: 0375. The explanation cited in the document says that the funds provide “for the operation of the QEH and a range of specialist services”. The moneys are also to finance the refurbishing of wards and other areas within the hospital.
Such funds were arrived at during assessments of what were required for the QEH during meetings with the appropriate personnel in both the Ministry of Health and the Hospital itself, prior to the Estimates being finalised and brought to Parliament.
Financing apart, something appears to be hampering the delivery of proper health care at the QEH, and the Government has to get to the bottom of the problem.
It has been stated that there is a shortage of nurses at the QEH. If that is the case, it does not take an expert to realise that patients’ care will be undermined because of the shortage.
Other problems cited include: talks that foreign nurses are being paid better than their local counterparts at the institution; long waiting hours in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department; shortage of supplies to the point where families of patients themselves have to purchase supplies; ill treatment by nurses, and the list goes on and on.
All of us want to see a better functioning QEH. It is all we have and the authorities have to get on with the job of rescuing the institution while putting aside the politics.