• The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Shadow Minister of Health

The Premier needs to accept that Bermudians are deeply worried about universal health care plans and must put them on hold until more details are available.

We have seen the Chamber of Commerce say that, “Government must pause and carefully consider its direction. Our healthcare system has its problems, so let’s fix those issues. Creating a whole new system with a whole new set of issues is highly unlikely to move us in the right direction”.

We have seen doctors warn of health care being jeopardised, we have seen Philip Butterfield, the chairman of the BermudaFirst advisory group, say that the “pursuit of a single-payer approach in the absence of detailed data about the endgame is a recipe for, in our judgment, confusion, discord and unintended consequences, and I feel that it is going to fracture our community”.

Mr Butterfield went on to say: “BermudaFirst supports a holistic approach to this critical issue and believes that it is necessary to obtain external, globally recognised expertise to assist us in developing a multi-faceted solution to this challenge.”

An Age Concern meeting on the health plan was left with standing room only and about 6,000 people have signed a petition against universal health care.

Henry Dowling, President of the Bermuda Medical Doctors Association, said the Premier “believes this is in the best interests of the people” yet it is clear that the Premier and his Government are arrogantly riding roughshod over public opinion and concern.

The Minister insists that this is not rushed, and she has referred to a report which was done in a bi-partisan way in 2012, thereby insinuating that the public has had seven years to digest this policy.

The reality is that the report was not a bi-partisan report, it was a sub-committee report issued by interested stakeholders. There were no public meetings explaining the changes or their impact on the public.

The government between 2012 and mid 2017 did not believe that the proposal was sensible and therefore did not advance it.

The new PLP government resurrected this in 2018 and in 2019 held three public meetings to enquire what should be included in the core plan. This supports the assertion that the public engagement is recent and appears rushed.

The One Bermuda Alliance supports health care reform because 60,000 people spending $700m a year is not sustainable but clearly Bermudians are very concerned about Government’s plan and it must put it on hold until more details such as a true cost and details of all benefits are available.

Consultation closed yesterday [Dec 8] and I would now like to see an announcement that this plan is being withdrawn pending the release of extensive new details.