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Wilson presses on with health system talks

Kim Wilson welcomes people to a workshop about creating the Bermuda Health Strategy 2020-25 (Photograph supplied).

Talks about the future of Bermuda’s health system went ahead this week despite the ongoing efforts to protect the island from Covid-19.Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said that a meeting at KPMG would have been rescheduled if the risk level was “high” instead of “elevated”.She made the remarks yesterday afternoon when interested parties got together to talk about the Bermuda Health Strategy 2020-2025.The minister recognised that it was a difficult time to be looking at broader health plans.But, she said: “I absolutely believe that we cannot allow the urgent to completely displace the important. “Bermuda needs unity of vision for healthcare and the creation of a refreshed health strategy is vital. “Indeed, such a strategy will, in the long term, put us in a better place to deal with the next global health crisis.”Ms Wilson told the group that consideration was given to postponing the meeting.She explained: “Bermuda’s risk is currently at ‘elevated’ stage. “Until we are officially raised to ‘high risk’ for many people in the health system a great many functions have to continue. “Once we are on ‘high risk’ resources will naturally be redirected and non-essential work will be deferred. “However, we are not currently ‘high risk’ and only if and when there is a Covid-19 case on island will our risk status change.”The meeting heard that the ministry’s Public Health Emergency Response Team was setting up a Covid Incident Command including “a cross-section of health and associated personnel”.Ms Wilson said: “Resources are added to it daily. We rely on their leadership in the preparations. “This enables other parts of the ministry to continue business operations, including my office.”The minister said that the workshops involved about 30 interested parties and that the health system had “well over 2,000”.She added: “If the country were on ‘high’ risk we would have rescheduled, but at ‘elevated’ I believe it was best to complete this leg of the health strategy work now, while it is fresh on everyone’s mind, following the KPMG survey and stakeholder interviews.“In sum, this was a tough call to make. “There was no ideal decision but, in weighing the pros and cons across the health system, we felt this was appropriate at this time.”Ms Wilson said that the talks were part of the work to create a new health strategy for the next five years. She explained: “With KPMG’s support, we are bringing in a number of international health system experts to help share global lessons and innovations.”Ms Wilson said that feedback from consultation on the ministry’s health financing reforms was being analysed by a researcher at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University.She added: “The report will inform next steps and will be made public.”Ms Wilson explained that the Bermuda Health Plan was focused on financing reform but the Bermuda Health Strategy was about the broader health system including matters such as prevention and long term care.She said: “The aim is to have the new strategy ready for publication in the summer.”