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OBA says hospital shortfall not being addressed fast enough

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government is too slow in making good on a $31.6 million shortfall in funding for the Bermuda Hospitals Board, Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health, has warned.

The BHB says that $15 million of the underfunding, which occurred over the past four years, has been transferred by the Government and that it expects to receive the rest in 2024.

The medical organisation and the Government agreed in 2019 to an annual block grant of $322 million, made up of a government grant, Mutual Reinsurance Fund transfers and taxpayer subsidies — but that financial commitment was never fully met, resulting in a shortfall.

Mr Dunkley said the Government has failed to rectify the problem of underfunding at the BHB.

He told The Royal Gazette: “It still seems that funding is falling short.

“For the last couple of years, funding for the hospital has been in a difficult position, to say the least.

“The Government doesn’t provide me with much comfort that things will be better going forward.

“The Government has not given assurances that they have rectified the situation.”

A BHB spokeswoman said: “Of the initial amount BHB has been underfunded for the last four years, $15 million was paid in fiscal year 2023, and our understanding is that the remaining $16 million will be paid later in this fiscal year 2024.”

David Burt said in his February Budget Statement that the hospital had to run on an overdraft and that the Cabinet had approved a $15 million payment to BHB in the current year and would need to increase funding in the budget for 2023-24.

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

The organisation said that even if the Government made good on the shortfall, failures to increase the spending cap meant that it had received a single 1 per cent increase in five years.

A 76-year-old man who was diagnosed with pneumonia was left waiting more than two days for a hospital bed after being admitted to the King Edward VII Emergency Department last month, The Royal Gazette revealed.

This comes as the latest hospital figures stated that on one day in April, patients had to endure an average wait of 33 hours for a bed.

The Government was contacted for comment.

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Published May 31, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated May 31, 2023 at 7:56 am)

OBA says hospital shortfall not being addressed fast enough

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