Mr Speaker and Honourable Members,
I am very pleased to be tabling in this Honourable House today the Bermuda Hospitals Board 2015 Annual Report.
There has been progress in the auditing process, and this has been publicly commented on by the Auditor General. Financial Statements for 2016 were signed off by the Auditor General in February. I am very pleased to note that both 2015 and 2016 have unqualified audits. I will soon be able to table the 2016 report in this Honourable House.
The focus is now on completing the audits for 2017, 2018, 2019 and finally 2020. The current anticipated schedule will see BHB completing all its audits up to 2019 by the end of the calendar year.
Mr Speaker, alongside financial data, salary data, and financial statements, this 2015 annual report provides a summary of activities during the fiscal year under review. This was an incredible year that saw BHB move acute services into the new acute care wing after years of construction and planning. BHB was able to meet its new financial obligations, even though revenue decreased that year. Significant cost controls were put in place, and discretionary spending was carefully managed.
It was also the year we had two hurricanes within a week. The new acute care wing fared very well, but the older buildings at KEMH and MWI, and specifically the old Continuing Care Unit was damaged badly and residents had to be relocated at the height of the storm. The building has subsequently been demolished.
During that year, BHB managed to end the year with a surplus, though down year on year. Thirty-seven per cent (37%) or $10.7 million of revenues over expenses in this year was an accounting gain – not cash – related to accrued health insurance. Salary and employee benefits costs dipped slightly compared to the year before to $170.5 million. The biggest drops in revenue related to outpatient services and the extended care unit.
Mr Speaker, The 2015 annual report gives details of the operational readiness project, which included accreditation for the substance abuse programme, Turning Point, with the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
A significant focus this year was on Ebola preparedness planning, overseen by an Ebola subcommittee of BHB’s Disaster Committee, screening protocols for staff and patients, and the purchase of special protective equipment for staff and ambulances. At the same time a respiratory infection enterovirus D68 was circulating, especially impacting the very young. Protocols around testing, treatment and caring for infected patients as well as restricting visitation were implemented.
All this to say, that preparing for infectious diseases is not new to the Island or BHB, even as we face the more widespread challenges of COVID-19 today.
To close, Mr Speaker, I look forward to bringing the future annual reports as they are made ready, and to see BHB move forward on its legislated schedule of financial reporting.
Thank you, Mr Speaker