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MP DeSilva defends how hospital was run under his watch

Former Health Minister Zane DeSilva has said that the Progressive Labour Party never pretended the hospital did not have its share of problems.

However, he said the facility made forward progress during the party’s time in power.

“The hospital is a very large organisation. It’s going to have some good time, it’s going to have some bad times,” he said in response to Patricia Gordon Pamplin’s attack on his record as Minister in the House of Assembly on Friday.

“The hospital will have its challenges. No matter who’s the government, it will have challenges.”

And regarding former Chief of Staff Dr Donald Thomas, he said that those in authority are often disliked by some for making leadership decisions.

“If the Chief of Staff was so bad for that long, why did the CEO, the board, continue to employ this gentleman?” Mr DeSilva asked. “There are ways and means of getting things done. If one is not happy, there are processes in place to get things done.

“I think you will find that most of the noise did come from his management style and most of the noise would have come from the physicians. Some of those physicians, it has been said, were part of a system that cost the hospital $4 million per year.”

He also said the contracts signed under Dr Thomas’ watch were all reviewed or approved — a claim refuted by Health Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin — and encouraged those who believed the doctors were overpaid to carry out an audit.

“Go back and do an audit for the five to six years prior, and do a comparison of the money paid to those specific [fields] and then come back to this House with a report and tell me what the comparisons are, and we will see if they were overpaid,” he said. “I look forward to getting that information.”

Mr DeSilva noted the progress made at the hospital over the course of the previous administration, including falling mortality rates, shorter hospital stays, improved patient satisfaction and international accreditation.

He asked: “Have we forgotten how long the waits at the hospital were? Have we forgotten how we, as Bermudians, had to travel so often to receive healthcare because it was not available at the hospital here in Bermuda?

“How many patients complained that while in hospital, they never saw their doctor? Have we forgotten so quickly?”

He called for the Government to be careful about how they talk about the hospital moving forward, stressing that many Bermudians cannot afford the cost of overseas care.

“The hospital will continue to have challenges, both financially and with staff. It’s the nature of the beast,” Mr DeSilva said. “You cannot have 800 people and not have any issues.

“All I ask is that the current Minister and the current Chairman be very selective, be very careful about how they disclose the goings on at the hospital.”

Government Minister Grant Gibbons said the Howard Associates clinical and corporate review was in some respects insubstantial, particularly when looking at the financials of the facility.

He also questioned if any checks were made into Dr Thomas’ background before he was hired, saying a Google search would have revealed he was suspended from a senior position at one hospital and fined for practicing medicine without a licence in Florida.

But Mr DeSilva objected to that evaluation of the former Chief of Staff, saying he had been completely exonerated in the first matter, and the second was simply a matter of paying a licence fee.

“It’s like getting caught for a parking ticket,” Mr DeSilva said. “I hope [Dr Gibbons] is not just picking on the former Chief of Staff just because he’s black.”

He was then interrupted by Legal Affairs Minister Mark Pettingill, who along with Dr Gibbons called on Mr DeSilva to withdraw his comments for impugning improper motive.

l See separate story on Health Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin’s speech to MPs.

Former Health Minister Zane DeSilva.

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Published July 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 15, 2013 at 12:35 am)

MP DeSilva defends how hospital was run under his watch

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