(CNS): Two local senior physicians slammed the Cayman Islands government health system and its management in Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, pointing to a catalogue of problems. One doctor said Cayman had blindly followed the American system and another warned of problems in regulation and standards. The doctors complained of the health ministry’s disrespect of private sector physicians and a total lack of accountability. Listing numerous failings, the doctors pointed to the government authority and the health ministry as the source of many problems and a prevailing ignorance of management.
Following the report by the auditor general outlining many problems in the health system, Dr Darley Solomon, president of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society, decried the conduct of the ministry and described the situation in health as “a farce”.
As well as pointing to the problems of communication and the failure to engage with physicians about the issues, he warned that healthcare can bankrupt a society if the right decisions are not made. He said it was time to deal with the problem, as he described his frustrations about what was going wrong and the refusal of healthcare leaders to listen to doctors.
Dr Solomon, a surgeon, and Dr Sidney Ebanks, a GP and chair of the Medical and Dental Council (MDC), both private sector doctors who have worked for the Health Services Authority but are now at the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital, were scathing about the mismanagement and the failings undermining the current system.
Dr Solomon said “heads need to roll” and that someone in management had to be accountable for what was going wrong. He was particularly concerned about the need for the ministry and the HSA to communicate with doctors to help improve and maintain standards, as he accused government and the authority of blocking advancement.
The local doctor berated the authorities for failing to address the shortage of local physicians years ago, and said government has missed the chance to invest in local doctors and align with a US-based training hospital. He said there was no way that anyone wanting to do medicine could complete appropriate training in the Cayman Islands to include residency, as he criticised the internship at the HSA.
Dr Solomon expressed his broad concerns that from the starting point, the authorities were getting it wrong and accused the ministry of being resistant to raising standards. “Does the ministry have the capacity to manage healthcare? I think their track record is a resounding no,” he said, as he expressed his views about the myriad failings in the system.
Dr Ebanks told PAC that the MDC was not asked to comment on the changes to legislation, though they did volunteer their advice, which does not appear to have been followed.
The MDC is part of government’s health regulatory regime but the communication between them and the ministry also appears to be failing. Dr Ebanks said the council met with ministry officials in June, where medical experts expressed concerns and offered advice about the issues relating to regulation. But he said there have been no meetings since and there are no real channels of communication.
He said that the recommendations his council made to improve the council’s guidelines to meet regulations in the law appeared to upset ministry, but he warned that ambiguous regulations would provide loopholes for people to avoid meeting the best possible standards in healthcare.