Friday, April 12, 2024

PEP COLUMN: A new management model

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THE QUEEN Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is currently in the news for all the wrong reasons, and all of the controversy seems to centre on its board.As many Barbadians would be aware, in 2001 the previous Barbados Labour Party administration transformed the QEH into a statutory corporation with the passage of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Act, and placed our sole national hospital under the management of a 13-person “Queen Elizabeth Hospital Board”.The current Democratic Labour Party (DLP)-appointed board comprises Anglican priest Reverend Guy Hewitt (chairman), attorney-at-law and former DLP candidate Francis De Peiza(deputy chairman) and members Cardinal Fenty, Lisa Niles, Natasha Small, Junior Allsopp, Lawrence Clarke and Dr Irvine Brancker. The Chief Medical Officer and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health are ex-officio members.Now, the QEH is the single largest staffed institution in the whole of Barbados, employing some 2 500 workers, carrying out some of the most technical and complicated medical procedures imaginable, and commanding an annual budget of some $157 million. The QEH is therefore an extremely large and complex organisation, and cannot be adequately managed by a group of part-time directors who are not intimately involved with the daily complicated workings and procedures of the hospital.The QEH decision makers must be possessed of the specialised knowledge on which the hospital operates, and must be intimately involved with the everyday exchange of information within. And clearly, a group of directors operating part-time and meeting for a few hours once a month will not be equipped with that intimate knowledge.Clearly, the people with the required knowledge and hands-on experience to make informed management decisions about the QEH are chief executive officer Dr Dexter James and his team of senior medical, engineering and administrative full-time staff. And they must therefore be permitted to manage their institution free of interference from relative “outsiders”. This is not to say that there is not a role for a Government-appointed “supervisory” board to play in the overall administration of the hospital. But the correct role of such a Government-appointed body should be the more restrictive but very important one of ensuring that the technocratic management structure seriously pursues the fundamental objectives set by Government for the hospital. If this is to be the role of any Government-appointed board, then people should not be named to it on the basis of partisan affiliation or party recommendation. Rather such boards should be composed outstanding of publicly known citizens. And we in the PEP could easily think many.The PEP is therefore hereby making a call for a revolutionary restructuring of the management structures of all the major statutory corporations.
•The PEP Column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment Party. Email pepbarbados@gmx.com

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