Covid-19 budget slashed as healthcare system heads for shake-up – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Covid-19 budget slashed as healthcare system heads for shake-up

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph)

More than $7 million will be allocated to Covid-19 pandemic response work in the next financial year, the health minister announced yesterday.

Kim Wilson said that the funding would also support the Molecular Diagnostics and Research Laboratory, at present administered from the Cabinet Office.

She added: “From April 1, MDL will come within the fold of the Department of Health, which already operates the Government’s Central Laboratory.”

Ms Wilson said: “The pandemic is not over yet but changes to our border policies, largely enabled by good vaccination rates, both in Bermuda and in our gateway cities, should decrease the pressure on our island’s health system and allow for efficiencies in the management of our response.

“These anticipated efficiencies are reflected in the reduced budget for the pandemic response.”

Ms Wilson added that the health ministry had “a very busy year ahead” with the start of a plan to transform the delivery of healthcare.

She said: “We look forward to collaborating with the wider Bermuda community to make this a success.”

The Budget book showed that more than $7.7 million was budgeted for the national health emergency for 2022-23, compared to a revised figure of $13.9 million for 2021-22.

David Burt, the Premier, said earlier that the MDL had come under the Cabinet Office “because that’s the place we thought was best suited”.

He added in January: “The Department of Health was doing a lot of other things during the management of the pandemic. It’s one Government and it has worked remarkably well.”

Ms Wilson said: “The department already has an established lab.

“As the Premier indicated several weeks ago … at the time the ministry was heavily inundated with dealing with things with Covid and related to Covid.

“At the time, a decision was made that the MDL laboratory would come under the auspices of the Cabinet Office.”

Ms Wilson said that the health ministry’s budget for 2022-23 was $194.5 million, including about $147 million for the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.

She added that revenues for the next financial year were expected to be $25.7 million, most of which would come from Covid-19 Travel Authorisation fees.

The Budget book showed that the TA fee, introduced after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, was expected to bring in $22 million in 2022-23 – an $8 million increase on the revised figure for 2021-22.

But Ms Wilson confirmed that there would be no fee for the forms from April 1 next year.

Ms Wilson said that the administration wanted to create a healthier population.

She added: “The Government’s support for a healthier Bermuda is reflected in its commitment to universal health coverage and for this, there is an allocation in the Ministry of Health headquarters budget in the amount of $750,000 for consultants and, as well, an allocation in the Department of Health’s budget of $323,456 for health promotion resources.”

She added that the Bermuda Health Strategy 2022-2027 provided “the strategic principles the ministry will follow in executing this key Throne Speech initiative”.

Ms Wilson said that work in the first year would start with the establishment of a “transitional governance structure” needed for the transformation of healthcare.

She explained: “That will include setting up new working groups for stewardship and collaboration.

“A key element of this is the project management office which is necessary to drive the change.

“This year the ministry will also be working with our partners along several concurrent work streams.

“We will develop and pilot integrated essential care pathways, working with stakeholders to determine which patient journeys to pilot.

“The ministry will also establish the necessary baseline of our current health condition, which means bringing our health accounts up to date and determining our population’s health needs.

“In parallel we can begin identifying and prioritising efficiencies and cost-saving projects across the health system.”

Ms Wilson highlighted that a national digital health strategy was part of the work to deliver efficiencies by taking advantage of technology to bring together the Government’s health plans.

She added: “This is an island-wide effort to create a more efficient and value-driven health system where our residents enjoy better health outcomes.

“It starts with each of us doing what we can to live a healthier life.

“Living healthier lives reduces the burden on Bermuda’s health system and produces economic benefits.”

Members of Parliament are expected to debate the health budget next Monday.

* To read the Budget statement, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published March 04, 2022 at 9:41 am (Updated March 04, 2022 at 9:41 am)

Covid-19 budget slashed as healthcare system heads for shake-up

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