The following Op-Ed was released earlier today (Mar 8) by One Bermuda Alliance MP Michael Dunkley, Shadow Minister of Health …
During the Budget Debate for the Ministry of Health it was revealed by the Minister that cash reserves for the Hospital have dwindled to $16 million, which equates to six (6) days’ worth of funding to run the operation.
Normally a hospital would like 60 to 90 days of cash reserves. Last year, upon questioning from the Opposition, it was revealed reserves had dropped to $28 million.
The financial position of the hospital is in a precarious position. A quick look at some numbers and the situation is made very clear.
- the hospital accounts for 32% of the Ministry of Health’s budget
- it is 14% of the government budget
- in addition it receives a block grant of $330 million from the Mutual Reinsurance Fund
- financial reporting is unacceptably late with the last annual report available for the hospital being 2015
- government provided an additional $11.1 million in funding this financial year
- it also granted a $6.3 million “concession” as stated by the Minister of Health during the budget debate
- in spite of that the hospital was in a deficit position last year as stated by the Minister in Parliament
- in the 2022-2023 budget book the guarantee for the Bermuda Hospitals Board was raised from $276.8 million to $787.7 million; an increase of over $510 million dollars!
Our only hospital provides good service to the people of Bermuda and through covid it has done a commendable job of dealing with the pandemic. We cannot thank our health care professionals enough for their dedication and commitment through a very challenging time.
However, the financial position continues to deteriorate under the PLP Government and steps need to be taken to rectify this immediately!
This situation is made even more concerning by the lack of timely reporting which is critical in consideration of hospital business. How could Government prepare and Parliament review a budget without financial reports and accurate information? I raised this concern in Parliament last year during the debate and did so again this year!
The massive increase in the guarantee, without an appropriate explanation, heightens the concern.It is worth remembering that the PPP agreement for the new Acute Care wing has never been made public in spite of repeated calls to do so. It is way past time that it sees the light of day due to the revelation of the massive increase in the guarantee.
The PLP Government to date has failed to address many of our pressing health care challenges such as the high cost of healthcare, deatils of universal health coverage and the alarming position of hospital finances.
This cannot continue and must be addressed.