The government is ready to give the Health Services Authority a financial shot in the arm as the authority looks to pay its way, the Cabinet briefing heard.
‘The government is committed to supporting the HSA and will provide the necessary funding to ensure the organisation can meet its financial obligations until such time as the authority breaks even,’ Minister Anthony Eden said on Friday.
‘This does not mean that there will be an open line of funding. There will be the necessary guidance and setting of parameters,’ he told the press briefing.
The ravages of last year’s Hurricane Ivan had left the HSA with more than $10 million worth of damage to facilities and equipment, said Mr. Eden.
‘The magnitude of the losses suffered by the HSA, coupled with a significant decline in revenue and the fact that some insurance companies had ceased to make timely payments to the hospital for services rendered to their clients, further worsened the already uncertain financial position of the authority,’ he added.
Mr. Eden said that at a recent meeting with HSA staff one of the important issues raised was that of outstanding pension payments by the authority to the Public Service Pensions Board.
He said he had undertaken to fully investigate the matter.
‘It is a fact that the authority has not made timely payments, on behalf of its employees, to the Public Service Pensions Board in the past year.
‘This is however being corrected and I have received the assurance of the HSA that every effort is being made to bring the outstanding payments up to date as quickly as possible,’ said Mr. Eden.
‘In addition to outstanding pension contributions, the authority is having difficulties meeting some of its financial obligations, including outstanding payments to suppliers,’ he added.
The authority had had a long and amicable working relationship with many suppliers who continued to support the HSA through extended lines of credit, said Mr. Eden.
‘In fact some, recognising the important contribution of the HSA in delivering quality healthcare, have strengthened their partnership with the organisation through special supply arrangements,’ he said.
‘This is commendable and shows that there are those in the community who are conscious of the importance of sustaining a quality healthcare system for the people of these islands,’ he added.
The government had established a fiscal strategy that required the HSA to be financially self sustaining by the 2007/8 financial year, Mr Eden told the briefing.
He said he had asked the chairman of the board to provide him with a plan within the next three months outlining what the board was going to do to solve the existing financial problems and move towards financial sustainability.