Controversial Healthcare Partners Ltd could be dissolved soon, BHB

  • King Edward VII Memorial Hospital

    King Edward VII Memorial Hospital

HPL a timeline

* August 21, 2007: Dr Donald Thomas is appointed as Bermuda Hospitals Board's chief of staff.
* September 24, 2008: Healthcare Partners Ltd (HPL) is incorporated with the Registrar of Companies.
* February 11, 2011: Allegations are made and denied in Parliament about Dr Thomas and other senior hospital staff profiting from HPL and killing local competition.
* March 5, 2011: Further concerns about HPL are raised in the House of Assembly.
* April 2012: Overseas consultant David Green complains to BHB about Dr Thomas, claiming he was not paid for work done for the board and HPL on a proposed Betty Ford-style rehab clinic.
* July 13, 2012: BHB announces Dr Thomas has been placed on administrative leave.
* July 30, 2012: BHB announces it will undergo a clinical and corporate governance review, with Canadian firm Howard Associates later chosen to conduct the probe.
* August 2012: It's reported that obstetricians are now employed by BHB, with local ultrasound and imaging companies complaining they've lost business due to the new arrangement.
BHB says the clause in the obstetrician contracts which requires them to refer patients for diagnostic services at the hospital will be reviewed.
* October 1, 2012: BHB confirms Dr Thomas has resigned and left Bermuda.
* October 2, 2012: Health Minister Zane DeSilva says fees paid to specialist physicians hired by the hospital under Dr Thomas's tenure will be reviewed. Financial statements released by BHB show HPL made a loss of $714,000 in 2010/11.
* February 5, 2013: The Auditor General announces an inquiry into BHB and HPL's finances. BHB's 2011/12 and 2012/13 financials will not be made public until her audit is complete.
* March 25, 2013: BHB says HPL's future is being reviewed and that it could be dissolved.
* April 2013: Howard Associates is due to make its report public.

A heavily-criticised company set up by Bermuda Hospitals Board to go into business with private partners could be dissolved in the near future.

Healthcare Partners Ltd (HPL) has been mired in controversy since it was launched several years ago as an independent subsidiary of BHB, with claims made in Parliament that senior hospital staff were personally profiting from its activities.

The board has always refuted those claims, made by former Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson, along with her allegation that HPL was putting home-grown medical companies out of business.

A BHB spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette this week that the hospitals board was “currently in the process of appointing new directors and officers to the HPL board and reviewing its future”.

She said: “An up-to-date listing [of its directors and officers] will be provided once this official governance process is complete.

“Once these positions are agreed, the BHB board will decide whether to maintain or dissolve HPL and the newly appointed HPL board members will execute the mandate.”

More information about the subsidiary is expected to emerge from two ongoing probes: an inquiry ordered in February by the Auditor General into BHB and HPL's finances and a corporate and clinical governance review of BHB by overseas consultants Howard Associates.

The latter review is in its final stages, with Howard Associates attending a public meeting this week to hear concerns from the public about healthcare on the Island.

The consultant's report should have been released by the end of this week, but the BHB spokeswoman said there had been a “slight delay” and it would now be made public in April.

Mrs Jackson, then an Opposition MP, raised concerns about HPL in the House of Assembly in early 2011, suggesting BHB's then chief of staff Donald Thomas and others could be personally profiting from money raised by the holding company.

She told MPs: “We are talking here now about huge salaries and huge conflicts of interest which occurs.”

Her party colleague Grant Gibbons asked: “Is the chief of staff, Dr Thomas, is he paid fees or is he paid bonuses or any derivatives coming out of this company? If he is, it's a huge conflict of interest.”

Then Health Minister Zane DeSilva told the House that wasn't the case, with BHB later issuing a statement which said: “HPL is quite simply an independent arm of the BHB that was set up to go into business with private partners, such as physicians, and support the provision of services in the community.

“While it will, over the long run, bring in some additional revenue to BHB for the services it provides, it does not benefit any BHB individuals.”

Dr Thomas resigned from BHB last year after being placed on administrative leave in July. Financial statements released by BHB showed HPL suffered a $714,000 loss in 2010/11.

The newly elected One Bermuda Alliance Government appointed a new BHB board earlier this year, with members including Mrs Jackson, who has retired from Parliament, OBA backbencher Jeanne Atherden and Kathryn Gibbons, wife of Dr Gibbons.

Mrs Jackson said yesterday she could not comment on HPL as she was now on BHB's board.

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