MPs consult internet during heated debate on prostate cancer treatment
MPs clashed in a fiery exchange after Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson claimed Bermuda’s reputation was being trashed by “experimental” prostate cancer treatment at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Progressive Labour Party members reacted angrily to Mrs Jackson’s comments, with Speaker Stanley Lowe admonishing an animated Walter Lister for accusing her of lying.
Mr Lowe eventually brought the Shadow Minister’s Motion to Adjourn speech to an end when he told her to stop undermining confidence in the Island’s hospital.
MPs on both sides accessed the internet from their personal laptops to either discredit or back up Mrs Jackson’s allegations regarding High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), which she claimed was not allowed in the United States and only done in Bermuda and Mexico.
PLP MP Wayne Furbert’s Google search found the procedure is done in more than 30 countries; Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards discovered a website showing specialist Stephen Scionti only operates in Bermuda and Mexico.
According to Dr Scionti’s website, HIFU uses ultrasound to destroy deep seated prostate tissue without affecting the surrounding healthy tissue.
Mrs Jackson told the House of Assembly: “This is experimental and our reputation has to be trashed with something like this.”
Mr Lister then responded: “People get hurt by the nonsense that this Honourable Member says. She’s mastered the art of distorting the facts and some people believe her.”
Shaking his fists and pointing towards the UBP benches, he continued: “I ask the Honourable Member to stop this! Don’t go on like this! How can someone stand up in this House and lie like this?”
Mr Lister withdrew that comment following an intervention from Mr Lowe, but continued to say Mrs Jackson paints Bermuda as a third world country.
“That gets headlines,” he said. “When these stories go all around the world, that gets people’s attention.”
Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons then said: “I can’t let that last member, with that self-righteous speech, go unchallenged.”
Dr Gibbons said when the PLP was in Opposition its members frequently made unsubstantiated claims about things going wrong in Bermuda.
“I would sit there and say, couldn’t they find anything that’s good in this Country?” he said.
“Mrs Jackson’s standpoint here is that this procedure is not FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] approved.”
Health Minister Zane DeSilva said Mrs Jackson is “partially correct”, but said the procedure takes place in Canada, a country many Bermudians visit for quality health care.
Mr DeSilva urged Mrs Jackson to think before she speaks, saying: “The people in Bermuda are not the only people who listen to this. It’s worldwide. That’s why I implore the Honourable Member Louise Jackson, in particular, if you are going to come to this House and make statements, bring the facts.”
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