Panellists heckled at health meeting

  • Patricia Gordon-Pamplin

    Patricia Gordon-Pamplin

Discontent voiced by doctors at an event on healthcare reform demonstrates mistrust of the Government, the shadow health minister said yesterday.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said: “It was very clear to me that doctors were expressing their concern and frustration at being dictated to, under the guise of consultation.

“There clearly has not been a meeting of the minds in respect of how the proposed changes will impact the doctors who are an integral part of this entire process.”

She was speaking after a town hall meeting was held in the East End last week to discuss changes to healthcare coverage in Bermuda.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, announced in August that the Bermuda Health Plan 2020 was to replace the Standard Health Benefit coverage for all island residents.

The level of coverage that will be provided and who will administer the scheme have not been determined.

Ms Wilson said in August that there would be a four-month consultation period on what the plan should include and cost.

The most recent town hall meeting on the proposed change was held at Penno’s Wharf last Thursday.

Ms Wilson was joined at the event by Jennifer Attride-Stirling, the Permanent Secretary of Health, and Ricky Brathwaite, the acting chief executive officer of the Bermuda Health Council.

The 75-minute meeting included a question-and-answer session.

Several times during the session answers were interrupted by reactions from the crowd.

Anthony Richardson, a Progressive Labour Party senator, was at the event.

He said in an op-ed released at the weekend that he was “utterly shocked” by the behaviour of some doctors who attended.

Mr Richardson said that the doctors had “attended en masse, without declaring their presence”, and had “booed and heckled”, Ms Wilson, Ms Attride-Stirling and Mr Brathwaite.

He added: “They are prepared to hold Bermuda for ransom. I thought they were here for the patients and not the money.”

Mr Richardson said that doctors had been unwilling to listen to the event’s speakers who had repeatedly said that consultation on the proposed reforms was ongoing.

He added: “They insisted on speaking and behaving as if it was all a done deal and there was nothing more to discuss. They refused to accept facts regarding existing health insurance laws and published data on insured headcounts.”

Mr Richardson said that it was “truly sad to see this side of doctors”.

He added: “Thankfully, we know that not all doctors are like that as it is only the vocal angry ones whose greed and self-interest drives them to put profit before patients, and to favour fiction over facts.

“We know that there are plenty of good doctors who don’t share this perspective.

Mr Richardson added: “They have patient health at the forefront of their minds.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that doctors would have been “considered remiss” if they had not attended the event.

She added: “They attend, and they are criticised.

“Whereas the senator has an obligation to express his support for his Government’s position, the doctors have a responsibility to their patients to ensure that what is being driven by the Government will not have a negative impact on the level of care.

“Everyone does not roll over and play dead when the Government speaks, and the lack of clarity so far is creating anxiety.”

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Published Oct 28, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 28, 2019 at 6:53 am)

Panellists heckled at health meeting

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