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Dunkley: Emergency room waiting times are ‘unacceptable’

Minister of Health Kim Wilson would not take questions when she attended the launch of a new health app for Bermuda residents alongside Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Waiting times of more than 27 hours for a bed for patients at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s emergency department have been branded “unacceptable” by the Opposition.

Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health, said the situation was not befitting for a country presenting itself as part of the First World.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, refused to take questions on the matter when she attended a photo event in Hamilton to highlight a new app promoting vaccinations.

Mr Dunkley expressed alarm after The Royal Gazette revealed that on one day last week, April 21, people attending the hospital’s Emergency Department had to wait an average of 27.3 hours for a bed to become available.

And, on five days between April 10-23, patients were left without a bed for at least 20 hours on average.

The average wait time across the two week period was 14.8 hours, according to the Bermuda Hospitals Board.

Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: “These waiting times are simply unacceptable.

“I am not saying that people do not get care while they are waiting for a bed but it is a matter of dignity and privacy, really.

“This should not be happening somewhere that presents itself as being in the First World.

“There seems to be no plan by the Government to deal with this. They can’t just keep saying it is because of the number of admissions.

“We are tired of hearing that.”

Daily admissions to the hospital requiring a bed were up nearly a third in the two-week period measured by the BHB, jumping from 10 to 13, with a peak of 18 reached on April 21.

The BHB apologised for the situation and acknowledged bed waiting times were “much higher” than they would like.

App launched to help vaccination push

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, has launched a new HealthyPeopleBDA app providing information on vaccines and general medical services.

Ms Wilson said: “The app will feature the vaccination schedule, where you can find out what vaccines you should have had, according to your age.

“A guide which lets you get information about your child's development stages.

“And Immunisation services, where you can find out about the locations and times for your next vaccination.

“This app will provide the community with easy access to vaccine and child health information and, most importantly, is a space for reliable health information.”

Delays in discharging patients have been cited as an important factor in bed delays.

So-called “bed-blocking”, patients not leaving before 11am, has been a major cause of extra pressure on the hospital in recent months.

BHB warned in March that it would struggle to maintain its facilities or to pay a basic cost-of-living increase to its staff because government funding was not keeping up with medical inflation.

The BHB, which is $16 million short of the funds promised to it by the Government in 2019, said that even if the Government made good the shortfall, failures to increase the spending cap meant that it had received a single 1 per cent increase in five years.

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Published April 29, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated April 29, 2023 at 7:59 am)

Dunkley: Emergency room waiting times are ‘unacceptable’

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