January 12, 2002

Shortage of doctors in Barbados leads to long waits for treatment

                 BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) -- Barbados' state-owned main hospital has a
                 shortage of medical personnel because of the resignation of several doctors,
                 leading to long lines of patients waiting for treatment, a government official
                 said Saturday.

                 The doctors resigned unexpectedly in the last several weeks and hospital officials
                 have not found replacements, said Ronald Bascombe, permanent secretary in the
                 Ministry of Health.

                 "The shortage of doctors is causing serious problems at the Queen Elizabeth
                 Hospital, mainly in its medicine and surgery departments," he said.

                 The doctors recently resigned from the hospital for work in the United States, he
                 said. The lack of qualified doctors in the job market on the island has delayed the
                 search for replacements.

                 He said there has been a reduction of services at the hospital's accident and
                 emergency ward.

                 The government owns the 34-year-old, 600-bed hospital in southern Barbados.

                 On Saturday, dozens of islanders complained of hours-long long waits for medical

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.