The Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has categorically denied reports reaching Bermuda Real, that the waiting list for patients scheduled for diagnostic scans at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital can run up to months on end.
Complaints by patients surfaced after new regulations that cut health insurance coverage for scans conducted outside of the hospital were cut by the Bermuda Health Council earlier this summer.
One patient, who said she preferred to go to an independent medical facility, was told by the doctor who recommended her CAT scan, that he only deals with scans administered at KEMH.
The earliest appointment his office was able to confirm at the hospital, was for a date and time 12-weeks later. Eventually, however, that appointment was moved up due to cancellations. Other patients complained that they were unable to get an appointment for scans at KEMH for several weeks.
When contacted by Bermuda Real, a BHB spokesperson said: “The wait time for non-urgent diagnostic scans at the hospital currently average two to four weeks for each service except X-ray, which is a walk-in service.
“We understand there is a misconception that wait times are much longer. We want to assure patients and physicians that, should demand increase, we activate our contingency plan which involves opening on weekends to keep wait lists at acceptable levels. “Anyone with questions about scheduling their diagnostic imaging tests can call our team at 239-9729,” she added.
But in a world of technology, with advances in medicine that speeds up results from diagnostic imaging, some patients, with full health insurance coverage, questioned their right to a speedy diagnosis.
We put that to the head of Bermuda HealthCare Services and the Brown-Darrell Clinic, Dr Ewart Brown, who is fighting the new BHeC regulations by way of legal consultation.
“In 2017, every first-world country should have back up services and the element of choice. Bermudians deserve a choice,” he said.
Once notified of the new regulations that went into effect in June, Dr Brown vowed to fight the BHeC health insurance cuts as far as he can within the law, claiming it is a “direct attack” on his livelihood.
The BHeC notice was issued via email on May 16th, that as of June 1st, health insurance payments for MRI and CT scans at BHCS and the Brown-Darrell Clinics will be reduced by as much as 87 percent.
Shortly after he was notified, Dr Brown said the new policy was “politically motivated” to “cripple” his businesses. “And we’re prepared to go as far as we can within the law to fight this,” he added.
On the health insurance coverage cut, he said: “It essentially means that we can’t afford to provide the service.” But he said: “We will be providing the services until the courts hopefully finds that this is directed at us. There’s a long history here – this is their way of getting to me.
“Some people say the plan is to lower the fees so ridiculously that Bermudians will have no choice but to go to the hospital.” Moving forward, he said: “It’s not over! As we’ve said we’re going to fight until out last breath and we’ll continue to provide the services we’ve been providing for the past 25 years.”
Since then, BHCS announced that staff pay cuts “from the top down” were imminent, as a result of the new BHeC regulations.
Reacting to the move implemented in June, Dr Brown said: “We see the increases to all other diagnostic imaging services in Bermuda.
“It is of note and importance that, outside of KEMH, only BHCS and BD offer CTs and MRIs, and that the Government has a myriad number of ways in which they can make up the difference to KEMH.
“Of course there are very few businesses in Bermuda or elsewhere which could withstand such a sudden and drastic reduction in revenue. There are few people, including the BHeC executives who are championing these cuts, who could take a reduction in salary by up to 87% with just two weeks notice. It is uncivil and inhumane. It is treatment undeserved by our clinics, our staff and our patients.
A BHeC spokeswoman said a statement would be issued back in May or June. That statement has yet to be released to Bermuda Real.
- Featured Photo: Courtesy of BHB