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Ombudsman got our report all wrong Howard Associates

The head of a consultancy firm that conducted a review of Bermuda’s health system has defended his company’s final report, claiming that its findings could help save the Island $200 million in medical costs.

And Howard Associates managing director Jim Langstaff also criticised Ombudsman Arlene Brock, accusing her of failing to read the final document and imposing impossible deadlines.

Ms Brock gave a damning assessment of the review last week, saying the inspectors failed to unearth and disclose unanswered questions and that the document “breezes over the key concerns that led to the report in the first place” .

She also accused the company of attempting to curry favour with the new Bermuda Hospitals Board in a bid to win more contracts.

But in “an open letter to Bermuda” sent to

The Royal Gazette yesterday, Mr Langstaff said: “It is important to understand that our term of reference was to conduct a review of Governance and to make recommendations to improve things ‘on a going-forward basis’.

“We were not asked to conduct a commission of inquiry nor a forensic audit of the BHB,” Mr Langstaff said, adding that Ms Brock’s reasoning was “most peculiar”, because her own assessment was based rough drafts of the final report that were not complete.

And he said that deadlines had to be repeatedly put back because the scale of the project grew.

“When we started the Clinical and Corporate Governance Review in November 2012, it quickly became apparent to us that the list of tasks that we were to perform was going to increase significantly over and above the terms of reference,” Mr Langstaff said.

“Indeed some tasks were more in line with conducting a mini organisational/operational review of parts of the BHB and of healthcare for the Island of Bermuda.

“The Ombudsman, for example, added a lot of new tasks. The list kept getting longer and longer and longer.”

Mr Langstaff added that the inspectors had “a good relationship” with everyone they interviewed.

“Our relationship in particular with the Ombudsman was excellent until around the middle of February, when it became apparent it was going to be impossible to complete all of her requests and the requests of others within the time frame.”

And he said that his team was frequently praised for “moving quickly and accumulating a great deal of up-to-date knowledge on healthcare in Bermuda”.

In this regard, many thought we would be ideal to help with the important implementation and to help save the $200 million,” he said.

“Value for money — we had eight consultants devoting time to this project with two working full time for much of the project. We divided approximately $120,000 among our team over the five months, which we believe is a value for Bermuda and for the BHB.”

Last night Ms Brock stood by her critique and accused the consultancy of playing a “blame game”.

She said she gave the company many opportunities to discuss her findings, but Howard Associates failed to attend any hearings.

And she said that she did read Howard’s final ‘Rectification’ report, but that most of the improvements were “boilerplate and ‘Googleable’”, adding the consultants had called for an April 9 deadline, which they said they could meet.

And she said claims of a potential $200 million in savings were “vague with no blueprint”.

“Howard Associates’ weak attempt to blame others for their weak report reflects their modus operandi. I am convinced that no amount of extra time would have made much of a difference,” Ms Brock said.

Ombudsman Arlene Brock.

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Published May 22, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 21, 2013 at 11:34 pm)

Ombudsman got our report all wrong Howard Associates

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