The directors of Warren Healthcare Complex were ‘commended’ by Minister of Health Donville Inniss at its launch earlier this year. In his address he was quoted: “…the state cannot provide all services to all residents and hence it is my considered opinion that we must encourage the private sector to provide services which may or may not be provided in the public sector…”. The report details the players who formed the partnership to make the Warren Healthcare Complex a reality. Although it is not mentioned in the report quoted, BU understands that Peter Harris, one of the principals of CGI – is Chairman of the recently opened Warrens medical facility. The truth be told BU welcomes entrepreneurship wherever it rears it head but we have to be vigilant!
BU has been keeping an eye on how ownership of the private healthcare sector in Barbados has been taking form. Not many Barbadians are aware that then Minister of Health Jerome Walcott bought a 20% stake in Diagnostic Radiology, a company owned by the emerging deep pocket Peter Harris. Of course Walcott has a ‘front man’ who sits on the Board of Directors to represent his interest! Peter Harris we understand owns Diagnostic Radiology Inc; Teleradiology Inc; Emergency Room Inc; MRI Services Inc all key players in the healthcare sector.
To date BU has not been able to uncover any evidence which gives Minister Inniss beneficial ownership in any of the private healthcare facilities in Barbados. This includes The Sparman Clinic. What we have become a little uncomfortable about is the high number of government radiology requests which originate from the QEH and polyclinics which find their way into the private healthcare system. BU readers should recall Dr. Richard Ismael’s concern about Dr. Alfred Sparman allegedly being allowed to poach patients from the QEH. As citizens we have to begin to connect the dots. We are suppose to be an educated people.
Another deep pocket moving into the healthcare business is Bjorn Bjerkhamn. BU understands he bought the Mannings building in Speightown to convert to an emergency healthcare facility. He has already set up a foot care clinic currently administered by Dr. Natasha Farnum. One does not have to guess who is the primary owner of the health facility at the Villages at Coverly which is scheduled to be opened by mid August 2012.
If one is to evaluate the moves being made by the movers and shakers in Barbados, the easy conclusion is that there is a lot of money to be made in the healthcare sector in Barbados. And no wonder, Barbados has one of the highest non communicable disease rates in the world.
In all of this BU has become increasingly concerned on three fronts.
What is the nature of the relationship between the political directorate in health, past and present, and the deep pockets willing to invest in the private healthcare sector?
What oversight was in place to ensure Minister of Health Jerome Walcott – as he was then – not influence referrals from the QEH to Diagnostic Radiology of which is has a 20% stake. The same must be asked about what obtains now.
Lastly, what is the implication of a concentration of ownership within the healthcare industry in Barbados?