A published report on September 21, 2015, in one of the dailies headlined “Power Struggle in the PHA” reveals an unfortunate and dictatorial situation where employment practices in the Ministry of Health and Public Hospitals Authority are compromised at best. Sadly, it also confirms a duplicitous modus operandi by Government authorities.
Healthcare is an essential right of all Bahamians in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. As such, the provision of healthcare and decision making responsibility for the execution of healthcare policy is vital to the lives and livelihood of the people we serve. This is of particular and critical importance at present, as the government moves swiftly toward the implementation of a Universal Health Insurance Plan at the beginning of 2016. It must be noted that the government intends to implement this new plan despite the serious challenges in the healthcare system and the absence of transformational leadership.
If the reported hiring of a foreign consultant was true, at a remuneration level in excess of $160,000 per year, this would be in contravention of Section 20 of the PHA Act. The PHA Act specifies that while the Minister can give general policy directives to the Board of the PHA, the Minister cannot, in anyway, give directions relative to the employment practices of the PHA. Both the Minister of Health, who may have known and the Managing Director of the PHA, who should have known, are culpable in this matter and should be subject to discipline in accordance with existing policies.
It is baffling and tragic that despite the extremely high salary that is purported to have been provided to the foreign consultant, two Bahamian female deputy healthcare administrators appointments were not confirmed, apparently due to lack of funding for both posts. This lack of funding totals $12,000. Furthermore, the hiring of the foreign consultant breaks existing rules. We find this to be both astounding, insulting and unacceptable.
The hiring of the Sanergist group as consultants for the implementation of NHI is another example of the recruitment of foreign consultants who have apparently chosen to assume the leadership role in not only crafting a Benefits package, but also assuming apparent leadership of reorienting the healthcare system. They have extended their involvement to determine manpower needs as well as implementing measures to supposedly strengthen the existing healthcare system.
Moreover, the Insurance industry has also questioned the role of this group in the public expression of government policies relative to healthcare and their apparent authority to direct health policy with the full knowledge and support of the Minister. In the event that the public is not aware, there are any number of competent, experienced, honest and committed Bahamian professionals in the fields of Insurance, Finance, Sociology, Education, Accounting and Healthcare who are more than capable of developing this initiative.
These issues are further expressions of what the Free National Movement previously contended-The PLP does not believe in Bahamians. Their election slogan was a catchy phrase designed to appeal to our sense of nationalism but was clearly not a part of the PLP’s core values.
The FNM government will offer transformational leadership at all levels in government, but particularly in Healthcare. Our modus operandi will assure transparency and involvement of both the public and private sectors in the development of policies and programs. Furthermore, we will ensure that our healthcare services are adequately provided with both human resources and capital to meet the needs of a modern Bahamas.