Watchdog group highly critical of hospitals’ review

  • <B>A $175,000 review </B>of Bermuda's hospitals has been criticised by a watchdog group.<B></B>

    A $175,000 review of Bermuda's hospitals has been criticised by a watchdog group.
    (Photo by Mark Tatem)

A $175,000 review of the Island’s hospitals has been branded a complete waste of money by health watchdogs.

And the Bermuda Health Advocacy Group has accused hospital bosses of trying to sweep previous controversial decisions and practices under the carpet by promising to be more open and transparent in the future.

The 69-page review by independent management consultants Howard Associates, which took five months to complete, was released on Friday. At the top of its list of recommendations that needed improving was for the Bermuda Hospitals Board “to become more transparent and to reach out to all parts of the community”.

But last night a spokesman for BHAG said the report, which has already been condemned by Ombudsman Arelen Brock, failed to address key issues of concern.

“There are so many question and very little answers,” the spokesman said.

The group questioned why the consultants had failed to expose details of questionable management practices, such as the hiring and subsequent resignation of former hospital Chief of Staff Donald Thomas, the introduction of increased salaries and performance bonuses for staff and the investment of hospital funds.

“In the final analysis our disappointment is a complete understatement in reference the content contained within the Howard Associates Review,” the BHAG spokesman said.

“The obvious became even more obvious and BHB's objective was met by seemingly influencing favourable outcomes in the report and a continued failure to address pertinent issues relevant to best practices.

“Poor performance and misleading behaviour by deception from senior management and executives is credibly starting to break down the moral fabric of our healthcare institution.”

After the report was released, BHB CEO Venetta Symonds said she hoped the report would usher in a “a better run, more accountable and trustworthy service”.

But that pledge was dismissed by the BHAG, which alleged the BHB wanted to “desperately move forward without being held accountable for perceptible violations”.

“What's more disturbing is that BHB has the audacity to expect the community to rally behind them in their endeavours when they don’t have the decency to be open and transparent,” the spokesman said.

“There are so many questions and very little answers. The community needs to press their Government representatives and demand greater accountability and transparency concerning our collapsed healthcare system.

“The new hospitals board should use this opportunity to refocus their mandate and concentrate on the common thread that continues to navigate and permeate the culture of BHB. Moreover, they are in an ideal position to lead afresh the focus objectives and assess critical components that require careful consideration.”

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin acknowledged the consultants “were working under some serious limitations and constraints for conditions on situations that had been imposed by the former Government”.

“It was going to require them a little bit additional time in order to be able to get those things done,” Ms Gordon-Pamplin said.

“The Minister had no input in terms of what the review provided and it was determined by the BHB and Howard Associates, along with the Ombudsman, that the additional time was needed."

Asked by Shadow Health Minister Zane DeSilva if the review — which was originally meant to cost $100,000 — represented value for money, Ms Gordon-Pamplin replied: “Was there value for money? I'm certain that the BHB would determine that they have paid an additional $75,000. It was their call so to do it is not the Minister's call. As such, I would imagine that they would not have agreed to further work to be done if they did not think they were getting value for money."

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Published May 21, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated May 20, 2013 at 11:12 pm)

Watchdog group highly critical of hospitals’ review

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