Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Gordon Pamplin defends decision to close Urgent Care Centre

Health Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin admitted the controversial closing the Lamb-Foggo Urgent Care Centre was supported by Cabinet with ‘serious reservation' during questioning by the Opposition in the House of Assembly.

Since it's opening in 2009, the facility has seen an average of 14 people per day or about 5,500 people per year, Ms Gordon Pamplin told Parliament, and that residents went there because of its shorter wait-times.

Such numbers showed the UCC “was not, in reality an East End service, but rather, morphed into a service that was simply ‘not KEMH',” - referring to the centrally located King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Ms Gordon Pamplin defended the decision making to close the UCC and save $250,000 a year, saying both she and her party “will not shy away from making or supporting difficult decisions that are pragmatic and morally right”.

The veteran MP took aim at the Opposition Progressive Labour Party by saying her One Bermuda Alliance will not “fall prey to those things which are simply politically expedient”.

Ms Gordon Pamplin added “it is this approach that has cut this country off at the knees” and insisted that the public must be informed about the facts on the operation and closure of the care centre.

Ms Gordon Pamplin was speaking in response to questions from Opposition Whip and St David's MP Lovitta Foggo and former Health Minister Zane DeSilva, and at one point flatly refused to agree with PLP leader Marc Bean that she ought to resign.

Mrs Gordon Pamplin was forced to admit consultation about the closure is the responsibility of the independent Bermuda Hospitals Board, adding: “I would like for things to have been done differently — the board operates independently.”

And when Mr DeSilva insisted that it was a “yes or no question” as to wether the Ministry should have been consulted and if Cabinet agreed to the decision, she said: “Yes, with serious reservation.”

She explained “it is painful to have to acknowledge that over $5 million was spent in the construction of this facility, and a further $2.5 million outfitting” it.

“If we can make lemonade out of these lemons with a concept that could work, with or without BHB involvement, this Government, with the support of the Bermudian people, is willing to try,” Ms Gordon Pamplin said.

“I want to assure the public that the Government will continue to evaluate any recommendation put forward by the BHB and its Executive team to ensure that the health needs of our entire community are well served on an equitable and sustainable basis.”

She said the UCC was constructed to provide urgent healthcare to residents of the East End and to ensure that situations like that which occurred after 2003's Hurricane Fabian when the Causeway from The Main island to St George's and St David's was impassable made access to KEMH difficult.

Ms Gordon Pamplin added: “It might be noted that another similar facility was planned for the West End, however, this never materialised.”

Speaker of the House Randolph Horton warned Ms Gordon Pamplin that Ministerial statements are not to be “critical” of her colleagues in parliament when she said “a sensible and visionary approach” to the problem would have been to “make the bridge safe”.

Mr Horton explained: ““It can be done in other places, but not during a Ministerial statement.

“The fact is that it is closed, what you need to do is talk about is why you closed it, not because somebody else did something or didn't do something. That's the point.”

Noting that she was skipping forward in the statement, Ms Gordon Pamplin said the UCC would have needed “a minimum of 8,182 visits (a year) to break even” and the facility cost at least $2.5 million to run.

“To suggest that the OBA government is using two of its members who sit on the board (BHB) to somehow make the decisions is just patently false,” she said.

“The reality is that an average of 5,500 people used the facility, and the people of Bermuda were left to pick up the shortfall, not directly through the Consolidated Fund, but through the resulting higher insurance premiums and higher costs of healthcare,” she said.

“I want to assure the public that the Government will continue to evaluate any recommendation put forward by the BHB and its Executive team to ensure that the health needs of our entire community are well served on an equitable and sustainable basis.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published November 18, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 17, 2013 at 8:05 pm)

Gordon Pamplin defends decision to close Urgent Care Centre

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon