The Bermuda Health Council (BHeC), has warned that more money must be spent on the social causes of poor health; as opposed to just spending on healthcare, which is not the same as investing in health.

The update came after Premier David Burt said Bermuda had to be more selective when it comes to healthcare spending.

“The $700 million that we spend on healthcare is significant,” a BHeC spokesperson said.

“However, within the scheme of that spend, we have not invested enough on social and economic policies that are shown to impact health.

“Investing in health is more than spending money in the operating room, urgent care centre, overseas hospital or pharmacy,” she added.

“To spend wisely, we must invest in social determinants of health and find ways to get more value out of the healthcare dollars we spend.

“For example, to reduce high blood pressure, we should consider causes of social stress and have options to provide the public with access to affordable options of health prevention and promotion to reduce the causes of those stressors.”

Moving forward, she said a better targeted approach is needed to produce better long-term results.

“The amount of money invested should be related to specific health system and population health objectives.

“To be efficient in getting exceptional healthcare, we need to use available research and learn from the mistakes and the successes throughout the world,” she said.

“It is also important to allocate resources to support our health system in becoming more progressive and innovative in the face of ever-changing global medical standards.

“We, in Bermuda, due to our size and expertise of providers, have a unique opportunity to reform our system and become a model jurisdictions for others to follow.”

The BHeC statement follows the Premier’s Budget announcement of the $27.3 million increase in health spending.

The extra cash is earmarked “to reinstate the Bermuda Hospitals Board subsidy budget and to provide long-term care and health services”.

He also noted that the $700 million a year spent on healthcare was a “continued source of concern” and pledged the Government would reform the system.

“There is enough funding in our health system to give all our residents the healthcare they need, but we must be much wiser about how we utilise these funds,” said Mr Burt.

The Premier also noted that the proposed sugar tax on some items will be finalised after the Health Ministry’s consultation period on March 1. The duty on select healthy food items has also been scrapped.

While the BHeC does not believe sugar taxes will fix the island’s health problems, the spokeswoman said it could “be a powerful tool toward cultural change”.

Similar taxes have been used in other jurisdictions to deal with poor nutrition, which could provide governments with extra money to subsidise healthier foods or health education.

“Ultimately, the research shows that consuming better foods leads to better health.” she said.

Talks on health reforms to heighten 

She added that the health council would hold talks on health reforms over the next year.