Barritt is beating the BHB drum – loudly

John Barritt has been writing about the BHB debt issue consistently. This is his latest column.

He is right to keep this going – it is an enormously important issue that will not be going away any time soon and which, ultimately, could lead to reduced health care or a massive addition to our existing debt.

People need to ask question and they need to make use of PATI to do so.
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The story about the Bermuda Hospitals Board having to make severe savings completely passed me by. Yet it is just as significant as the issue over furlough days or the increasing rate of mergers and acquisitions in the international/reinsurance business. (I have heard people talk of as many as 200 jobs being lost in that sector this year – equating to millions of lost dollars.) BHB chairman Jonathan Brewin was quoted as saying “BHB must continue to reduce costs and our target is to make $40 million in savings.” Venetta Symonds, the BHB’s chief executive officer, talks in the story of changes that have to be made and says: “If we do not, BHB will fall deeply into debt and will add to the already stretched financial burden of the country.”

The new wing at the King Edward VII Hospital which is facing $40 million in savings
The new wing at the King Edward VII Hospital which is facing $40 million in savings

I would assume that this is a result of two things: 1. Increasing unemployment, but also particularly the number of people who have left the Island. 2. The need to service a debt repayment for the next 30 years. (Remember, this was a PPP – the hospital is owned by the private company that built it. BHB is legally bound to repay the annual debt.) I wonder how much of a millstone that has become to the BHB? So what are the implications? From my point of view they are pretty obvious – cuts in jobs (to add to the increasing unemployment) possible cuts in services and potentially an increase in prices that will be passed onto our health insurance costs. Like I said, I think this is just as significant as any other issue facing Bermuda and it is one that, as far as I can see, has been badly underplayed and overlooked. PS John Barritt has this take on it as well.

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