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National Health Plan moving into new phase DeSilva

Health Minister Zane DeSilva gave a review of spending in his Ministry in the House of Assembly, against the backdrop of a nine percent rise in health costs last year.

The National Health Plan, designed to provide universal access to healthcare by 2014, is moving now into the next phase of its development, Mr DeSilva said.

Reviews of the new Senior Abuse Register Act have identified shortcomings, such as the need for a facility to house seniors during an investigation.

The Register does not have the authority to deal with cases of seniors who might not be considered abused but at risk of abuse, he said.

The Minister defended the funding of seniors’ home Lefroy House, which he said had “come under considerable attack lately”.

There is $5.25 million budgeted for the facility in the coming fiscal year.

Repairs carried out at the house include $65,000 for new flooring and $30,000 for replacement air conditioning. Five rooms remain unoccupied but are being refurbished.

Challenges to the Department of Health come from external sources, he said social and economic pressures brought about as a result of global circumstances that were placing a strain on the Department.

Staff shortages and an ageing population posed “an enormous challenge” for the coming decade, he said.

Mr DeSilva said a new accounting system requiring staff training had taken longer to implement than expected, hampering the Department during the final quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

He also mooted upcoming legislation for healthcare including a proposed abolition of upfront charges for healthcare, and also checking employers’ funding of health insurance.

During her reply to Mr DeSilva’s speech, spokesperson on seniors Louise Jackson criticised Government for budget overspends on health in recent years that have led them to request millions in supplementary estimates.

“This isn’t maintaining financial stability. It’s financial incompetence,” she alleged.

Mrs Jackson expressed concern over the Continuing Care Unit [CCU] and a report done on that unit which was not made public.

She said it should be made public out of fairness to the patients and their families.

She went on to request that young disabled men should be removed from the continuing care unit where they are housed with seniors who have dementia and Alzheimers.

“It’s just not right,” she said.

Mrs Jackson also expressed concern that the CCU and the Sylvia Richardson home are the only homes on the Island that provide specialist care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

She pointed out that healthcare is listed in surveys as seniors’ biggest concern and she does not believe the Island is ready to cope with the “tsunami” of seniors that are coming due to an ageing population.

Mrs Jackson said the Opposition believes the FutureCare healthcare plan for seniors has created more problems than it has solved.

She said the OBA would review the programme, its funding and sustainability if elected to run the Country.

Charles Swan, who was elected as a United Bermuda Party MP, said the costs of administering the hospital have gone up since 2001.

He said millions of dollars have been paid for professional services and he hopes there has been value for money. He wants to see figures made public on this. He also expressed concern over conditions at Lefroy House.

At $191 million, funding for the Ministry of Health takes 18 percent of the Budget overall.


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Published March 13, 2012 at 10:01 am (Updated March 13, 2012 at 10:00 am)

National Health Plan moving into new phase DeSilva

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