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BHB subsidiary firm to be ditched

A controversial company set up by the Bermuda Hospitals Board is to be scrapped, health chiefs have confirmed.

Healthcare Partners Ltd was formed in 2008 to go into business with private partners as a subsidiary of BHB.

But the scheme soon came under fire, facing allegations that hospital staff were profiting from its activities at the expense of home-grown medical companies.

In 2011, then-Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson suggested the hospital’s former chief of staff Donald Thomas and others could be personally profiting from money raised by the holding company. She told MPs: “We are talking here now about huge salaries and huge conflicts of interest which occur.”

Although the former Board consistently denied those claims, the Auditor General ordered an inquiry into hospital funding and HPL’s finances in February. The subsidiary reported an operating loss of a $714,000 in 2010/11.

New BHB chairman Jonathan Brewin has now confirmed the board intends to “wind down” the subsidiary.

Mr Brewin, who was appointed to head up a new Board in February by the One Bermuda Alliance Government, said the new Board had now completed a review of “the establishment and governance” of HPL and concluded: “The subsidiary is not needed. It introduced unnecessary structures and does not conform to good governance. The Board has already taken steps to begin winding HPL down, and commits to ensure the highest and accountable levels of governance of HPL during this time.

“There were only three businesses in HPL — Physician Billing, Medical Concierge, and a joint venture, Ultimate Imaging. The Board is reviewing these businesses to formulate next steps. It should be noted that Ultimate Imaging remains in HPL as the shares are held under HPL.

Mr Brewin added the new Board was looking forward to the full audit of HPL by the Department of Internal Audit and was committed to cooperating fully with the auditing process.

An independent team of inspectors also raised questions over HPL. In a report released last week, consultants Howard Associates noted: “HPL is both a problem area as well as an area of curiosity and scrutiny.

“The concept of HPL was established several years ago as a vehicle where the BHB would partner with outside physicians and clinicians to establish clinics and clinical centres in the community.

“In most cases the individuals involved left the table with bad feeling, frustrations, and in some cases anger. Some have threatened litigation and at least two cases that we know of are still under legal review.

“We were notified that the Auditor General would conduct an audit of HPL and we fully support this initiative. From our assessments, HPL has not been well-managed by the BHB since its inception.”

(Photo by Glenn Tucker) The Bermuda Hospitals Board is scrapping a controversial subsidiary firm set up in 2008.

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Published May 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 21, 2013 at 12:11 am)

BHB subsidiary firm to be ditched

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