Government urged to come clean’ on DeSilva
The Government should come clean over “unanswered questions” about the shock resignation of Zane DeSilva from the Cabinet, Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden said yesterday.
She was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, announced at the weekend that Mr DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sports, had quit over a “conflict” related to cuts in fees for MRI and CT medical scans.
Mr DeSilva stepped down only days after he appeared at a press conference held by Ewart Brown, a doctor and former premier, who blamed the closure of the CT scan service at his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s on a “vendetta” against him by the Bermuda Health Council.
Mr Burt said on Sunday that Mr DeSilva had voiced concern about a conflict he faced over “a set of circumstances this new government inherited”.
Ms Atherden said: “All Members of Parliament are required to declare any material interest in government business — when was this conflict known?”
She added: “Regardless of what the reason is for the resignation of Mr DeSilva, the people of Bermuda need to be assured that this will not lead to an increase in the cost of healthcare in Bermuda.
“The Bermudian people deserve to know what the reasons are for Mr DeSilva’s resignation.”
Mr DeSilva said in a ZBM News interview last night that his close friendship with Dr Brown had sparked his resignation, and that he had not been asked to leave Cabinet.
The fee reductions came under the former One Bermuda Alliance government when Ms Atherden was Minister of Health.
Ms Atherden poured cold water on a Ministry of Health claim last week that the fee cuts exceeded the recommendations of technical officers.
She said: “As the minister involved in the setting of the fees, I dispute this claim.”
Ms Atherden added that the BHeC had been established in 2006 under the Progressive Labour Party to act as a health service watchdog.
Ms Atherden questioned why a government committed to making healthcare more affordable would “backtrack” from an opportunity to cut costs.
Ms Atherden added that the fees approved under the former government in July last year were based on BHeC recommendations.
She said: “Without seeing the books of an organisation one cannot say if the financial losses incurred would now make it unprofitable.”
Mr Burt said that the PLP administration had tried to “mitigate the impact of those fee reductions without increasing health insurance costs”.
The Government reviewed losses from the fee changes at Dr Brown’s Brown-Darrell Clinic and Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget, as well as at the Bermuda Hospitals Board after it took power last summer.
It decided to provide a subsidy to the three affected facilities to cover their losses because a return to previous fee scale would have cost the Government $8.6 million.
Ms Atherden said that the fees approved in July last year had been “properly tabled”.
She added: “In April 2018, Government would normally introduce new fees and new services.
“I would hope the Government would not revert to the pre-June 2017 fee rates and continue with the cost/utilisation review which does not affect patient care but rather is designed to make the system more effective and patient-centred.”
The Bermuda Medical Doctors Association yesterday voiced concern over the closure of the Brown-Darrell CT unit.
The association said it had provided “an outstanding service to the Bermuda community”.
The association added: “The membership is very concerned that our patients will lose this option, which has been a very well-led facility with excellent staff, short wait times, and quick, high-quality reporting.”
• To read Jeanne Atherden’s statement in full, click on the PDF below “Related Media”.
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