Doctor hits out over fees cut
A physician has attacked drastic cuts to the fees charged for diagnostic imaging, maintaining that his business will be “significantly curtailed”.
J.J. Soares of Hamilton Medical Centre had ambitious plans for a walk-in centre at a new location later this year — but said it would probably have to scrap its planned service of open MRI and CT scanning because of “unreasonable” cuts.
Dr Soares, who has aired his grievances in an advertisement with this newspaper, also said there were suspicions that similar measures from the Government and the Bermuda Health Council would be brought to bear on ultrasound, X-rays and blood testing, making the service “untenable” for private clinics.
The cuts to reimbursements for clinics are said to average 70 per cent, with some as high as 87 per cent.
Introduced under the Health (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2017, the measures were defended by the Ministry of Health and Seniors as containing health spending and reducing premiums.
They have already come under strident attack from Ewart Brown, the former premier, who decried the move as politically motivated and aimed at crippling his clinics.
Fee changes provided by Dr Brown to The Royal Gazette depict the steep drop in fees charged for high-tech procedures, including:
• CT head scan with contract: $383 — down from $1,441;
• CT chest scan with contrast: $542 — previously $1,543;
• MRI spinal lumbar without contrast: $542 — previously $1,301;
• MRI lower extremity without contrast: $560 — previously $1,301,
Dr Brown said he had been left with no choice but to implement wide-ranging salary cuts at Bermuda Healthcare Services as a direct result of the drop in payments.
According to Dr Soares, the imposition could result in MRI and CT scanning becoming the exclusive domain of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, since it would be “absolutely unfeasible for them to be provided by any facilities in the private sector”.
Advertised as a “notice to all patients”, Hamilton Medical Centre's paid message in expected to run several more times in this newspaper.
Dr Soares had envisaged an urgent care centre that would be easily accessible to the public, while driving down costs through the use of measures such as videoconferencing.
Meanwhile, describing the salary cuts as “a painful decision”, Dr Brown said: “Either we were going to lay off employees, send summer students home and keep fewer people working or we could make cuts across the board and keep everyone gainfully employed. We chose the latter.”