Ministerial Statement: Budget & Staffing at MAWI

July 22, 2011

Minister of Health Zane Desilva delivered a statement this morning [July 22] in the House of Assembly about the budget and staffing at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. The statement follows in full below:

Mr. Speaker, there has been some speculation and comment in the media over recent days about the impact of budget reductions on services at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI).

Mr. Speaker, I wish to assure this Honourable House that there was an informed and lively debate between my Ministry and the Bermuda Hospitals Board prior to the final decision on the budget for Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute and the services delivered by MWI.

The final budget did result in a reduction of finances in excess of $1 million on a total budget of around $39 million.

While the Board was disappointed, they fully understood the situation and assured me that they would be able to continue to deliver safe services and maintain Bermudian jobs with the budget provided.

Like everyone else, they had to find ways of saving on administration costs, and on back of house services in order to minimize the impact on clinical posts and clinical services.

Mr. Speaker, before proceeding further to put the record straight on this issue, I want to say up front that as Minister, I know what a dedicated, hard-working and professional group of staff we have at MWI, delivering a great service to their clients day in, day out, quite often on a 24/7 basis.

I think this fact has been lost in much of the media commentary, and I repeat – the staff at MWI do a fantastic job.

Mr. Speaker, much of the over $1 million in savings were found by the BHB from savings in administration and back of house costs.

There was however, a need to supplement this by initially freezing five clinical posts. These posts were:

  • One (1) psychiatrist,
  • One (1) junior doctor,
  • One (1) art therapist,
  • One (1) occupational therapist and
  • One (1) physiotherapist.

This is out of a total complement of around 350 staff.

So, to put this in perspective there has been a great deal of speculation and commentary about five posts, while the great work carried out by 350 other staff has been largely ignored.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that MWI has been able to save more than anticipated in non-clinical areas, and as a result, the BHB has been able to unfreeze the occupational therapy post which has now been filled by a Bermudian.

Mr. Speaker, MWI has traditionally operated with four psychiatrists.

They recently increased that complement to five as they wanted to utilize the experience of Dr Radford as Chief of Psychiatry while a Bermudian psychiatrist returned to Bermuda.

I am sure that this House will have seen yesterday’s BHB press release, giving the excellent news that Dr Chantelle Simmons, a highly qualified and experienced Bermudian psychiatrist working at MWI, will be taking up the post of Chief of Psychiatry on the 1st of September 2011.

The Board had hoped to retain the five psychiatrist posts following Dr Radford’s departure as Chief of Psychiatry in order to accelerate the service developments that are planned.

However, this is not a year for growth, and MWI had to revert to the traditional complement of four psychiatrists.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the other two posts, I can state that the art therapist post, which was only recently introduced to enhance services, was never actually filled.

This post has now been frozen until funding is available, but I will stress, nobody has lost a job, and no existing service has been impacted.

Mr. Speaker, the last and fifth post, the physiotherapy post was frozen, but the service will be delivered from the pool of physiotherapists based at the King Edward Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, let me now address the Mental Health Plan.

This Plan was formulated by the nurses, clinicians and managers at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute and they remain completely committed to this Plan which will continue to improve the quality of services delivered by MWI to this very vulnerable group of clients here in Bermuda.

This Plan has a multi-year time horizon which was originally intended to be delivered over at least five years.

We have already made progress on the Plan, and we congratulate the staff at MWI on this progress. For example:

  • Under the heading of “Expand the Community Based Care Model”, MWI has:
  • Established Home Treatment through Acute Crisis Resolution; and
  • Established an Assertive Outreach Team for the Mentally Ill.
  • Under the heading of “Service Improvements”, they have:
  • Put in place specialist services for Autism Spectrum Disorders; and
  • Improved the Geriatric Psychiatric Services which are available.
  • And under the heading of “Reforming Forensic Mental Health Services”, MWI has:
  • Developed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bermuda Department of Corrections and the BHB.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would ask this House to join me in thanking all the staff at MWI for their dedication, for their professionalism, for caring for the clients that they serve, and for continuing to improve the services that they offer.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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