Health council emphasises spending ‘wisely’

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  • Medical investment: David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, announced $27.3 million increase in health spending in the Budget last week (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Medical investment: David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, announced $27.3 million increase in health spending in the Budget last week (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Spending on healthcare is not the same as investing in health, the Bermuda Health Council has warned.

The watchdog said more money should be spent on the social causes of poor health after David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, said Bermuda had to be more selective in its healthcare spending.

A spokeswoman for the BHeC said: “The $700 million that we spend on healthcare is significant.

“However, within the scheme of that spend, we have not invested enough on social and economic policies that are shown to impact health.”

She added: “Investing in health is more than spending money in the operating room, urgent care centre, overseas hospital or pharmacy.

“To spend wisely, we must invest in the social determinants of health and find ways to get more value out of the healthcare dollars we spend.

“For example, to reduce high blood pressure, we should consider causes of social stress and have options to provide the public with access to affordable options of health prevention and promotion to reduce the causes of those stressors.”

The BHeC spokeswoman said health cash had to be better targeted to improve the system for better long-term results.

She added: “The amount of money invested should be related to specific health system and population health objectives.

“To be efficient in getting exceptional healthcare, we need to use available research and learn from the mistakes and successes throughout the world.

“It is also important to allocate resources to support our health system in becoming more progressive and innovative in the face of ever-changing global medical standards.”

She added: “We, in Bermuda, due to our size and expertise of providers, have a unique opportunity to reform our system and become a model jurisdiction for others to follow.”

She was speaking in the wake of Mr Burt’s Budget announcement of a $27.3 million increase in health spending.

Mr Burt said the extra cash would be used “to reinstate the Bermuda Hospitals Board subsidy budget and to provide long-term care and health services”.

He added that the $700 million a year spent on healthcare was a “continued source of concern” and pledged the Government would reform the system.

Mr Burt said: “There is enough funding in our health system to give all our residents the healthcare they need, but we must be much wiser about how we utilise these funds.”

He also announced that a sugar tax on some items would be finalised after the health ministry’s consultation ended on March 1 and that the Government would reduce or scrap duty on a selection of healthy food items.

The BHeC spokeswoman said sugar taxes would not fix the island’s health problems, but could “be a powerful tool towards cultural change”.

She added that similar taxes had been used abroad to tackle poor nutrition and could also provide governments with extra money to subsidise healthier foods or health education.

The spokeswoman said: “Ultimately, the research shows that consuming better foods leads to better health.”

She added that the health council would hold talks on health system reforms over the next year.

An investment and solutions wish list

• Essential benefits that include health promotion, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care

• Universal healthcare so that everyone is covered for essential services for an affordable price

• More targeted patient subsidisation

• Competitive pricing of health services that reflects the fair cost of doing business in Bermuda

• Training opportunities for students in areas such as informatics, supply chain management and biomedical engineering

• Implementation of standards for health information technology, data collection and reporting

• Opportunities for economic growth in areas such as health research

• Stronger community partnerships to deliver health education, prevention programmes and screening services

• Greater buying power to get better prices on prescription drugs, medical supplies and overseas care

• Transparent consumer tools for decision-making and review of care quality

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Published Feb 23, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 23, 2018 at 11:46 am)

Health council emphasises spending ‘wisely’

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