JUST WATCH US: Darville says govt will ‘lay solid plans’ for new hospital while improving existing facilities

JUST WATCH US: Darville says govt will ‘lay solid plans’ for new hospital while improving existing facilities
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville (right).

Former PM Minnis says PLP’s plan “impossible” but PM Davis says his administration is up to the task

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Amid criticisms from former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign promise to build a new hospital on New Providence and Grand Bahama, Minister of Health Dr Michael Darville said the government will focus on improvements to existing facilities and renovations.

When asked to respond to criticisms that the promise of a new hospital was an election ploy, Darville said: “The [need] for a new hospital is paramount.

From left, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville, Hospital Administrator Mary Walker and Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis tour Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. (BIS/PATRICK HANNA)

“I can tell you this much — that under this administration, we will be moving very rapidly to address that additional need, while at the same time doing the necessary renovations and improvements at our current tertiary facilities.

“That is absolutely paramount.

“So, I do agree that we need to improve upon what we have while we begin to lay solid plans to construct a new facility here in New Providence, as well as on the island of Grand Bahama.”

In the PLP’s “Blueprint for Change” plan released in the weeks ahead of the general election, the PLP promised to build a new hospital on New Providence through a public-private partnership (PPP) while making improvements to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), and construct a new hospital on Grand Bahama through a PPP.

Following a Free National Movement (FNM) Central Council meeting on Wednesday night, Minnis said he and his team did a complete assessment for a new hospital in 2010 while he was minister of health, and determined the cost was $650 million.

He said when his administration took office seven years later, the decision was made to build new facilities of the hospital in stages because $650 million could not be afforded, noting that that decision was made before the economic shocks of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis (left) and FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis.

“So, it is impossible,” Minnis said of the PLP’s promise.

At the Davis administration’s first Cabinet meeting yesterday, “this is almost overbearing” were the words used by Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis to describe the challenges the country faces.

“We accepted this challenge because we are up to it and I am confident each and every one of you around this table are up to that task,” Davis told his Cabinet colleagues.

Underscoring the importance of managing the ongoing health crisis and putting the economy on better footing, Davis said unless the pandemic is “under control, everything else is lost”.

Turning to the media, Davis said: “To the press, we hope to be as transparent as possible.

“There are matters which, of course, if you would have heard the oath taken, you know that there are matters that inure to the good governance of the country. [Those] things cannot be divulged, but we will be as transparent and as open, and ministers will be available to you to discuss matters in their portfolio as we move on to keep the country abreast about what we are doing and why we are doing what we are doing.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said with the experience and skills around the table, he is confident the challenges facing the country will be tackled head-on on behalf of the Bahamian people.

Prime Minister Philip Davis met with his Cabinet colleagues for the first time as government ministers at the Cabinet Office, Tradewinds Building, downtown, on Thursday, September 23, 2021. Seated from left: Mario Bowleg, Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Michael Darville, Ryan Pinder, Secretary to the Cabinet Nicole Campbell, Prime Minister Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper, Alfred Sears, Michael Halkitis, and Ginger Moxey. Standing from left: Zane Lightbourne, Vaughn Miller, Lisa Rahming, Jomo Campbell, Keith Bell, Glenys Hanna Martin, Fred Mitchell, Obie Wilchcombe, Wayne Munroe, Clay Sweeting, Pia Glover Rolle, Myles LaRoda, and Basil McIntosh.   (BIS Photos)