TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8: Following the release of the Consultation Feedback Report on the National Health Plan 2011 in October, the Ministry of Health has today released the final version of the Plan which incorporates the consultation feedback, entitled National Health Plan: Bermuda Health System Reform Strategy.

The Consultation Feedback Report on the National Health Plan summarized the submissions from the public and various stakeholder groups regarding the National Health Plan (NHP) Consultation Paper that were collected during the public consultation period, which began when the paper was released in February 2011 and ran until May 2011.

The Minister of Health, the Hon. Zane De Silva, JP, MP said: “The consultation feedback provided many insightful ideas and suggestions that the Task Groups can now use in developing policy options to implement the NHP Goals. The finalized Plan that we publish today includes revisions based on feedback regarding conceptual, systemic and structural issues. In particular, the focus on assuring population health, explicit reference to enhanced service co-ordination, and the amendment to the proposals on financing structures were a direct result of the consultation feedback.”

The Minister added: “In addition, the consultation feedback indicated areas in the Plan that required clarification. For example, the goal on overseas care now clarifies the importance of protecting patient choice, within a framework of equity and sustainability.”

Overall, based on broad support for much of what was proposed in the Consultation Paper, the NHP has remained conceptually aligned with the original version. The revisions made are enhancements and clarifications, but the conceptual direction remains on track. The public expressed support regarding the general direction of the Plan; however, the consultation process indicated several areas which needed to be included or amended.

The largest addition to the Plan is the inclusion of a mission statement to ensure the ultimate purpose of striving for healthy people in healthy communities remains at the center of our work. The mission statement is: Bermuda’s health system shall assure the conditions to enable the human capacity to adapt and cope in achieving optimal health and quality of life.

Minister De Silva explained the need for a mission statement:

“This mission statement is important as it highlights that the purpose of the plan is to assure a healthy population; and that this is to be achieved by ensuring that the health system facilitates and encourage people to attain the best health possible within our reach as a community, and as individuals.”

The Plan has also been updated with regard to newly available statistical information and more detailed information regarding the implementation process including reference to the Steering Committee and the Task Groups.

Additional changes to the NHP resulting directly from the consultation feedback include assuring access to necessary medical care for persons with chronic conditions and an amendment to Goal 3 to now state that health coverage contributions shall be affordable to all, to ensure equitable access to healthcare (whereas previously it proposed contributions to be based on ability to pay).

The revised National Health Plan and the Consultation Feedback Report will now form the foundation for the Task Groups to set to work in developing ways to implement the NHP Goals. This will be a community-wide effort, with further public discussion and consultation taking place on an ongoing basis.

Later this month the Task Groups will convene to formally kick off this phase of the National Health Plan, and before the end of the year, we expect to have a dedicated web site up and running, to facilitate access to information about the NHP, and public involvement.

Stakeholders are encouraged to access the National Health Plan: Bermuda Health System Reform Strategy, which can be obtained from the Ministry of Health web site on www.gov.bm and the Bermuda Health Council web site at www.bhec.bm.