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Kurron Shares' contract is cut short by BHB

Bermuda Hospitals Board has ended its five-year contract with US-based Kurron Shares 18 months early in order to save money.

Bermuda Hospitals Board has cut short its multi-million dollar five-year contract with Kurron Shares by 18 months to save money, it announced last night.The publicly-funded quango revealed the news in a statement released shortly after Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson told the House of Assembly the amount being spent on health consultants was “absolutely obscene”.Mrs Jackson lambasted Government for spending “millions of dollars” of taxpayers’ cash on overseas experts during an hour-long response to the proposed National Health Plan.Referring to Kurron Shares, she told MPs: “I understand that that has now been closed down. It cost this country $13.5 million over five years.”The Opposition MP said the company brought workers here who were earning “$700,000 a year, $21,000 a month” and receiving 25 and 15 percent bonuses.Health Minister Zane DeSilva told her: “That’s incorrect.”Mrs Jackson said: “I’m sorry, but I do know this to be a fact.”The Shadow Minister later claimed hospital CEO David Hill earns $800,000 a year and chief of staff Donald Thomas $700,000.She said previous parliamentary questions on the salaries and bonuses had gone unanswered but she would ask again “and you will answer them this time”.She added: “The money spent on consultants is absolutely obscene. If we are trying to cut costs, then this is totally ridiculous.”Mr DeSilva responded later in the debate that consultants had saved Bermuda half a billion dollars by coming up with an alternative plan to building a new hospital on Botanical Gardens.He said Mrs Jackson initially came to Bermuda as a consultant, and United Bermuda Party MP Grant Gibbons uses consultants for his businesses.In 2007, medical consultants Kurron Shares of America Inc won a five-year $13.5 million contract to help BHB develop a long-term health care strategy for the Island, beating a bid by world-renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine International.The decision prompted criticism from doctors, who claimed Kurron Shares was “minor league”.And former Premier Ewart Brown faced accusations of cronyism, as the New York-based company was run by his friend Corbett Price.BHB said in its statement last night it was assessing all consultant contracts as part of a wider review of the “breadth and depth of its operations”.“Contracts impacted include the management support contract with Kurron Shares Inc, which is being terminated a year-and-a half-early, and the physician support contract with Greeley, which will not be renewed in 2011.“A number of other smaller contracts have either been terminated, not renewed or reduced. In total, net savings per annum are expected to be in the order of $4 million.”The statement said the review was to “improve efficiency and find appropriate operational cost savings, while continuing to improve health care services”.“The continuous review is part of BHB’s commitment to consistently provide value to the community in the face of rising health care costs and the current economic challenges in Bermuda.“It also reflects BHB’s responsibility to be prepared to meet the financial obligations of the KEMH Redevelopment Project, which includes making repayments for the new hospital facility from 2014 and funding the revitalisation of the existing KEMH facility.”Board chairman Herman Tucker said the consultants had been needed to improve patient care and satisfaction but BHB was “entering a new phase”.“On the back of our succession planning process, we are now able to take a critical review of our future needs and are seeking ways to accordingly reduce these costs,” he said.“BHB’s succession planning programme has identified Bermudians for senior leadership positions that were once held by consultants. With our plans for the new hospital facility approved and a contract signed, the timing was right for a full review so that we only maintain those contracts whose role remains vital for us to meet the longterm health care needs of Bermuda.”BHB has axed one job in its senior management team: that of chief of business development.The postholder, Scott Pearman, will become chief operating officer, a position previously covered by the Kurron contract.Mr Hill said some “highly specialised support” was needed over the last few years to support a “huge agenda of improvements and change”.He added: “We are, however, very cognizant of our duty to control health care costs and meet Government budgetary requirements, as well as our required preparation to ensure we can meet annual repayment for the new hospital facility from 2014.“While we still need to keep pace with international health care standards and developing our service, we are proud to do our part in running a highly efficient health care service for Bermuda.”A year ago, Government answers to parliamentary questions from Mrs Jackson revealed that the Ministry of Health spent approximately $19.4 million on consultants between April 1, 2008 and January 31, 2010.The bulk of the consultants were used by BHB.l Useful websites: www.bhb.bm and www.kurron.com