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Shadow Health Minister accuses Govt of ‘breaking promise’ on clinic

Government is “insulting the intelligence of Bermudians” over its plan to reopen the former indigent clinic, according to Shadow Health Minister Zane DeSilva.

The clinic, based at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, provided free healthcare to the needy until it was shut down in 2007 by the last administration.

That move was condemned by Opposition politicians at the time and, in March, the new One Bermuda Alliance Government promised to have the facility up-and-running again by this month.

However, the clinic will not now open until November and will initially provide treatment only for the chronically ill, such as patients with diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, although services will be expanded at a later date.

Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said the delay and limited scope of the new clinic was a result of previously unforeseen budget challenges faced by the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

But this week Mr DeSilva accused Government of “breaking another promise”, claiming the plan was badly thought out from the start.

“The OBA's delay in acting on their ill-conceived scheme to bring back the outmoded and discredited indigent clinic has hit another road bump,” Mr DeSilva said.

“Already, they've discovered that reopening this humiliating relic of a bygone era would be financially disastrous. Now, they are insulting our intelligence by assuming that Bermudians wouldn't know the difference between a ‘chronic disease' clinic and a clinic aimed at providing healthcare to the poor.

“Will anyone with a chronic disease be able to attend the clinic regardless of financial status?

“Rather than admit that they'll be breaking another promise, the OBA have come up with a new service altogether which will be in competition with the private sector. The OBA's handling of this situation should concern every Bermudian who cares about protecting our Island's less fortunate.”

Physicians, meanwhile, have refused to be drawn into the political row.

Bermuda Medical Doctors' Association president Joanna Sherratt-Wyer said the organisation supported “any measures which improve access to healthcare for those who are in need”, but added: “Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on the specifics of the reopening of the former indigent clinic at this time, as the details of any potential reopening have not been made publicly available.”

Zane DeSilva

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Published September 26, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 26, 2013 at 12:46 am)

Shadow Health Minister accuses Govt of ‘breaking promise’ on clinic

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