‘A case requiring specific intervention’

  • Request for intereference: Ewart Brown, the former premier, urged the Government to intervene (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Request for intereference: Ewart Brown, the former premier, urged the Government to intervene (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A seven-month e-mail trail details the controversy that led to the Bermuda Government’s decision to offer compensation to medical services that were affected hit by a significant cut in fees for high-tech scans.

“It would appear that the [health] council believes that it is wholly autonomous and can do whatever it wishes without answering to Parliament or the people of Bermuda.” — Ewart Brown, in a July 18, 2017 letter to Bermuda Health Council chief executive officer Tawanna Wedderburn. Dr Brown claimed the BHeC acted “illegally” in reducing the fees without parliamentary approval and suggested there had been “political pressure or political power” from its board.

“We need to operationalise this conclusion now. The Premier has asked for an update and wants it operationalised by the end of this week.” — Financial secretary Anthony Manders, in an October 31, 2017 e-mail to Permanent Secretary of Health Jennifer Attride-Stirling regarding Cabinet’s decision on how to respond to Dr Brown’s threat of legal action.

“The Minister would like to meet urgently regarding the letter before action, as she has essential matters to discuss.” — Dr Attride-Stirling, in a November 9, 2017 e-mail to health council chairwoman Alicia Stovell-Washington and chief executive officer Tawanna Wedderburn.

“What is the plan for paying this? Premier is asking.” — Mr Manders in a December 10, 2017 e-mail to Dr Attride-Stirling about “grants to BHB, BHCS, Brown-Darrell”.

“Anthony — it seems the Premier instructed that Finance should execute this. We are more than happy to hand it over to your team. Let us know if that’s your understanding.” — Dr Attride-Stirling, in a December 11, 2017 e-mail to Mr Manders regarding Bermuda Healthcare Service. Mr Manders replied: “I am going to tell him you guys are doing this.” Dr Attride-Stirling responded: “I’m happy with that. You can assure him that you’re in the loop and we’re doing it on Finance’s behalf simply because it’s more practical.” The financial secretary then asked: “When can I tell the Premier when the first payment will be made?”

“I agree that more communication and involvement would have been better for all concerned. From might [sic] perspective, better still would have been for this entire episode not to have occurred. The points are taken and we all did what we could under the circumstances. Should we face another instance in future, we’ll collaborate formally at an earlier stage.” — Dr Attride-Stirling, in a January 7, 2017 e-mailed response to Accountant-General Curtis Stovell. Mr Stovell’s original e-mail regarding a “recent Ministry of Health grant payment” was censored.

“This was an extraordinary case that required this specific intervention. There is no precedent of this experience and it is not expected to occur again.” — Dr Attride-Stirling, in an e-mailed response on January 19, 2018 to Opposition senator Andrew Simons, who had asked if other diagnostic imaging providers could seek government support over the fee cuts.

“It was called a grant. It was a settlement in the sense there was court action pending ... against the health council and we agreed to withdraw that action.” — Ewart Brown refers to the payments, in an interview with Bernews on January 22, 2018.

“Minister — does Dr Brown’s response mean that he accepts the offer?” — Dr Attride-Stirling in an e-mail to Kim Wilson, Minister of Health, on January 31, 2018.

“The truth is that this is complex. But we can’t take any more drip drip inquisition.” — Dr Attride-Stirling, in a February 14, 2018 e-mail to a Department of Communications officer, referring to media queries about the fees for medical scans.

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Published Aug 31, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 31, 2018 at 2:06 pm)

‘A case requiring specific intervention’

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