Ewart Brown, owner of a clinic that is to discontinue its high-tech computerised X-ray service, turned up the heat yesterday on the Bermuda Health Council, which he blames for the closure of the service.
Dr Brown, the former premier, said the end of CT scanning at the Brown-Darrell clinic could mean the loss of four jobs.
He added the service at the Smith’s clinic would close at the end of the month because of a BHeC decision to cut fees.
Dr Brown said the council, set up to monitor and improve island healthcare services, had been “functioning as a collection agency for the insurance companies”.
He added that the decision was part of a sustained “political attack”.
Dr Brown said the Brown-Darrell service complemented CT scanning available at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
“It’s been a very good arrangement, and for the same fee that the hospital has paid,” said Dr Brown.
Dr Brown was flanked by Progressive Labour Party MPs and Jerome Lynch QC as he addressed a group of supporters outside the clinic.
Mr Lynch said that there appeared to have been “some sort of targeting by the council”.
He added that BHeC had cut diagnostic imaging fees “without any consultation”.
Mr Lynch said: “Having come up with a figure, they decided to slash that even more.”
New charges that came into effect last year has had a major effect on fees for CT imaging. Prices for one type of scan fell from $1,441 to $383, while another dropped from $1,543 to $542.
Dr Brown said the BHeC had been put in place under a PLP government but that he had warned colleagues that “unless it is very carefully crafted, it’s going to be a problem”.
He added: “Just as lawyers would not like it if a non-legal person were in charge of regulating them, doctors feel that those that regulate us should be doctors.”
Dr Brown said several of BHeC’s proposals over the years had been “rejected by the public”.
He highlighted a push for medical precertification, as well as tighter insurance regulations for mammograms, a proposal which was dropped after protests in June 2015.
Dr Brown claimed BHeC had found the former One Bermuda Alliance administration to be one that “loved the idea of putting Dr Brown out of business”. He added his next steps were “a moving target” and that, while he hoped the Progressive Labour Party government would be able to work with him, he was “not here to try to tell them what to do”.
The Ministry of Health said yesterday that a grant had been approved for service providers “in order to help ensure CT and MRI services are readily available to the public”.
The grant was assigned to the Brown-Darrell Clinic, Bermuda Healthcare Services, also owned by Dr Brown, and the Bermuda Hospitals Board. The ministry said that the previous OBA administration’s cut in fees was “significantly” larger than the technical recommendation.
A later statement from the ministry said: “The actual payments will be based on services provided, therefore the exact amounts for the period of operation will not be known until the end of the fiscal year.
“If the level of services remained the same as last year, Brown-Darrell and Bermuda Healthcare Services would receive approximately $778,000 and BHB $1.8 million.”
“Bermuda currently has three CT scanners, placing us above the OECD average and among the highest in the world for CT scans per person.”