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Ministry defends late hospital financial reports

John Wight, the independent senator (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Ministry of Health has responded to criticism by an independent senator that Bermuda Hospitals Board financial reports have not been tabled in Parliament in a timely manner.

John Wight called last month for better governance, citing annual reports by the Bermuda Hospitals Board being presented to the House of Assembly and Senate up to two years late.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for tabling the documents, said last week: “The Government is committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in the BHB and its financial performance.

“With the publication of the 2020 annual report, BHB is currently up to date with the publication of all completed audited financial statements.

“The 2021, 2022 and 2023 financial statements are with the Auditor-General.

“BHB has been working to catch up with the publication of its annual reports following a very intensive period responding to the pandemic.

“In March 2022, the 2016 BHB annual report was laid in the House, followed by four more annual reports over the last year.

“This demonstrates our concerted effort to keep the BHB annual reporting up to date and provide timely and accurate information to the public.

“The BHB’s commitment is to maintain pace with the auditing process and ensure a timely publication.”

Mr Wight told the Senate on July 5: “Today, Senate received the BHB’s financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2020. The Auditor-General, Heather Thomas, signed her audit report in March 2022. Thus the annual report was ready for the House and Senate to review a year ago and thus delayed one year.

“In addition, recently the hospitals board financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2018 were presented. In reviewing these financial statements, I noticed that the Auditor-General signed her audit report in March 2021.

“Thus they were ready to be presented to the House and Senate at that time. So my concern is, why was there a delay of two years bringing forward the annual reports?”

Mr Wight also said that the annual report for the year ended March 31, 2019 had not been tabled but it later emerged it had been.

He said that the reports are of most use to the public if they are current and that the hospital’s financial performance was of great public interest.

The BHB was approached with questions but did not provide responses.

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Published August 01, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated August 01, 2023 at 7:38 am)

Ministry defends late hospital financial reports

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