The Sparman Clinic Affair – Questions about money, conflicts of interest

“The lower the cardiac care capabilities are at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the more money the private Sparman Clinic will make.”

“How many patients have been transferred from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the Sparman Clinic since July 2009? How did the transfers come about?”

… BFP staffers Marcus, Robert & Cliverton discussing the Sparman Clinic Affair

Who are the financiers and beneficial owners of The Sparman Clinic Inc.?

  • Did the Government of Barbados provide any financing or guarantees regarding the Sparman Clinic?
  • Are any Sparman owners or personnel also Government officials or Queen Elizabeth Hospital employees or Board members with potential conflicts of interest?
  • Have any Government officials, Queen Elizabeth Hospital workers or their immediate family members received any payments or gifts from Doctor Sparman?
  • Has the Sparman Clinic accepted any Barbados citizens for free cardiac treatment as promised in 2009 when government financial concessions were provided?
  • Why hasn’t the government opened the new $5.2 million dollar Cardiac Suite at the QEH as promised by Health Minister Inniss in July 2009 “on an urgent basis”?
  • Have the automated external defibrillators been strategically positioned throughout the country and 200 persons trained to operate them as promised by Health Minister Inniss in July 2009?
  • How many patients have been transferred from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to the Sparman Clinic since July 2009? How did the transfers come about?
  • Dr. Ishmael’s letter of complaint details a similar incident where a complaint was made about Dr. Sparman to the Medical Council of Barbados. What are the details and the outcome of that complaint?

(L - r) Director of the Sparman Clinic, Cardiologist, Dr. Alfred Sparman; Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, his wife, Gail Inniss and the Minister's Personal Assistant, Cindy Downes at the start of the official opening of the $20 million facility for cardiac care located at No. 4, 6th Avenue Belleville St. Michael (photo & caption: Barbados Government Information Service)

  • Given the controversial and troubling public history of Doctor Alfred Sparman dating back ten or more years, why did the Minister of Health and government think it wise in 2009 to so closely associate government with Dr. Sparman and his clinic?
  • On what basis did the Minister of Health call Dr. Sparman a “cardiologist”?

Doctor Richard G. Ishmael pays the price for asking reasonable questions about corruption.

Doctor Richard G. Ishmael was suspended by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for daring to put into writing his observations and concerns about Dr. Alfred Sparman’s actions and qualifications – and also his questions about the troubling apparent relationships between Doctor Sparman, the Director of Medical Services, the Minister of Health and unknown staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital acting as “moles” for The Sparman Clinic.

Doctor Ismael’s hard hitting letter of complaint also suggests that it is about time Barbados opened the Cardiovascular Care Centre “in the empty shell on the 2nd floor of the Lions Eye Care Centre which was conceptualized and articulated 14 years ago, was designed 10 years ago and was funded by the European Union 6 years ago, as well as by increasing the number of critical care beds at the QEH (first requested 15 years ago) by refurbishing, expanding and reopening the medical ICU and creating a coronary care unit (CCU). This will allow better care for all QEH cardiac and critically ill patients rather than trying to send ‘private’ cardiac patients to a private institution runny an individual with questionable credentials.”

Conflict of Interest, simply stated…

“The lower the cardiac care capabilities are at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the more money the private Sparman Clinic will make.”

That’s why we want to know if any government money is supporting the Sparman Clinic. That’s why we want to know if any government officials or QEH workers are stakeholders in The Sparman Clinic.

Why hasn’t Health Minister Inniss opened a $5.2 million dollar QEH Cardiac Suite as he promised in July 2009?

If Minister of Health Donville Inniss or any of his close family members are personally invested in The Sparman Clinic or if any government funds other than tax concessions have gone to The Sparman Clinic – Inniss can kiss his ass goodbye next election.

Typically Barbados…

The ongoing controversy surrounding The Sparman Clinic, Minister of Health Donville Inniss and Doctors Alfred Sparman and Richard Ishmael  is being conducted in almost a total information vacuum as to the actual details of the formal and informal relationships between the Government of Barbados and Doctor Sparman. Had the DLP government kept its promise to introduce a Freedom of Information Act within three months of the January 2008 election, Barbados citizens would not have to rely upon rumours and speculation.

But it’s the same old, same old as the current government enters it’s fourth year in power: citizens demand answers about potential corruption and nobody in government gives a damn because in the absence of laws government officials don’t have to care. It almost makes us yearn for Owen Arthur’s BLP government because at least they never pretended to be honest or transparent.

Background to the opening of The Sparman Clinic

In July of 2009 Barbados Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, addressed the official opening of the new “$20 million dollar facility” of The Sparman Clinic at Belleville, St. Michael.

The Barbados Government Information Service press release (Sparman Clinic A Strategic Partner with Government) stated that Minister Inniss “praised the Director of the Clinic, Cardiologist, Dr. Alfred Sparman and his staff” and rightly pointed out that cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of deaths in Barbados.

The Health Minister used the occasion to make a major announcement that that “$5.2 million dollars had been allocated towards getting a cardiac suite in place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a matter of urgency.”

A Nation newspaper article further reported “Inniss also revealed that eight Automated External Defibrillators were to be placed at strategic locations around Barbados and 200 lay people would be trained on how to use them in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.”

For his part, Doctor Sparman thanked the government for “concessions granted to the project” and promised free and reduced rate heart care for Bajans…

“Dr. Sparman further assured Government that the clinic would be a strategic partner providing services to some public patients free of charge and in other cases at a greatly reduced rate. He also stressed that the opportunity existed for rotations in cardiology for interns at the QEH to be undertaken at the Clinic, and there would be a Sparman Foundation where indigent patients would receive funds for heart care.”

Further Reading at BFP

December 22, 2010 The Sparman Affair: We print Dr. Ishmael’s letter for which he was suspended and sued.

December 21, 2010 The strange case of Doctor Ishmael and Mister Sparman


Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Ethics, Health, Politics

51 responses to “The Sparman Clinic Affair – Questions about money, conflicts of interest

  1. West Side Davie

    Minister Inniss should immediately make a public statement about the government’s financial support and guarantees, if any, to the Sparman Clinic. there should also be a public enquiry into QEH employees who have part-time employment at The Sparman Clinic.

    Free Press: Thank you for five years of asking the questions that need to be asked. You need to start hammering away more at the Integrity and FOI legislation promises of the DLP or it won’t happen. Don’t let them get away with it!

  2. 6724250081236-72354745-454456C

    Sparman is a nasty Guyanese piece of work!!
    and should be put out of this country by the same equally-nasty and corrupt politicians from both political parties,
    who see to it that he is still in this country!

    I am ashamed that we have this deplorable situation in Barbados.

    Because of this ongoing crap, a child very nearly died,
    and Dr.Ishmael had to be re-instated in a big hurry!


  3. Here's another question for QEH..

    Why hasn’t the government opened the LIONS EYE CARE CENTRE at the QEH ??

    I often attend the outpatients eye clinic in Ward C2,
    and conditions there are ‘strained’ to put it mildly.

    Strained for us who wait 4 long hours, to see medical staff
    who are already at their wits end!
    Meanwhile the Lions Eye Care Centre stands there like a big dummy doing NO-one any good.

    What idiot politrix is preventing the half-blind people of Barbados
    from benefitting from MORE idle QEH plant&equipment??

    Not that that would change anything, for Barbados is now as corrupt and rotten as Trinidad and America
    with all Governments,everywhere on the planet now run amok!

  4. Dirt Bag DLP Government

    Where did the EU $6 million dollars go to?


    Where the $#!@! is the EU money?

    Waiting for Minister of Help Himself Donville Inniss to make a statement.

  5. Keep waiting!

    NO statement will be forthcoming!

  6. Green Monkey

    Where did the EU $6 million dollars go to?
    Where the $#!@! is the EU money?

    Donville Inniss: “EU money? Dat money went trou de eddoes, an dah is all I can say at dis time. “

  7. Responder

    BFP, I have no problems questions being asked about Dr. Sparman and Donville Inniss alleged misconduct or impropriety, lack of qualifications, etc. Again i ask, can the comments made by Dr. Ishmael be substantiated, and if so then what. There is no integrity legislation, no law that i am aware of making Minsters responsible for foolishness happening in their ministries. Dr. Sparman was at this point already regarding his qualifications, and whether he should be practicing in Barbados, and won. So my question BFP is, What next?What do you think is going to happen?. BLP got away for fourteen years.

  8. jack spratt

    What amazes me is that there is only one “pediatric” cardiologist on the island in case of emergency. Can’t an ordinary cardiologist treat a child’s heart? Is there a pediatric gynaecologist….urologist….neurosurgeon? Something smells fishy.

  9. Observing

    Jack Spratt, actually an ordinary cardiologist can’t (or is not the best option) to treat a child. Children are not just “small adults” there are substantial physiological differences between a neonatal patient, a child an adolescent and an adult.

    Also in pediatric cardiology a pediatric specialist will have far more exposure to issues dealing with congenital heart defects as opposed to an adult practitioner.

    Barbados while it is better than most of the OECS and the rest of the Caribbean does have shortages in terms of several areas of medicine especially in the field sub specialties of pediatrics and also in the role of developmental therapists.

  10. tealc

    @Jack Spratt its a specialization. Childrens bodies and hearts are still growing etc. They can’t take certain meds etc.
    its a different ballgame.

  11. Anonymous

    Pediatric-ANYthing is a whole different ball game!

  12. big stink

    I want to know about government investment in the Sparman Clinic. It matters and especially if the DLP invested in Sparman’s clinic and did not open a cardiac suite at QEH.

  13. Barbados STINKS!

    So…does ANYthing go on, in the LIONS wing?
    Anything AT ALL? or is it just a big ole white elephant?

    Why the crowd in the eye clinics when a big new(back then!) Eye Wing obtains?
    Why the backlog in the Cardio Dept. when AS A MATTER OF URGENCY
    there’s a Cardio Unit awaiting our pleasure?

    WTF is going ON??

    The Q.E.H. Administration STINKS!
    Both Political Parties STINK!
    Barbados STINKS!

  14. Parson Brown

    Jack Spratt really isn’t too smart is he? Why bother with Pediatricians at all, I mean are children humans? DUMB!!! Dumb!!!! DUMB!!!!! Please go back to school Jack or do a little research on google before you pose your next dumb-ass question.

  15. poor people governor

    Thank you Jack Sprat i am surprised that no one else raises that issue instead of looking to see who is the more credible candidate is this triangle
    Whether Sparman is a sex offender or not Minister being ministerial in his ways If good DR Ish and you the public of Barbados cared anything about these children he would be training young drs to specialize in his field
    Did any children die while he was with the PM so he left sick children to attend to a PM with all due respect was dying anyhow so ishy couldn’t of saved him as his general physician but that did not matter to Ish or tuh wunna cause d Pm is a bigfish

  16. jack spratt

    So the question remains unanswered, is there any other pediatric specialist in the QEH? Parson Brown, you deserve the title.

    what if Ishmael becomes paralysed or too ill to work?

  17. Anonymous

    cud some1 pls translate that last incoherent post?

  18. Parson Brown

    Dr. Ishmael was off island for 4 days at a time when he was helping your PM. In phone contact and able to return for emergencies. I still can’t figure out what Ishmael did that was wrong, aside from reporting what should be reported to who it should be reported.

  19. rasta man

    @parson brown.
    It was done on the wrong letterhead.

  20. GEAR BOX

    All this lot of long foolish back talking, How on earth in this small island we have ONE (1) damn pediatric specialist, what happens when he goes on vacation, gets sick, or God forbids dies or rendered unable to continue, WHAT HAPPENS THEN? All the children at the QEH DEAD, WHAT UTTER NONSENSE, you mean to tell me we are soooo naive is this the best we bajans accept
    As for Sparman & the Minister ALL the lot of long talk aint going to fool little pooooooor me that them two fellas aint greasing one another to each other’s advantage.

  21. I-spy

    I smell a rat……. no two rats and some vaseline

  22. rasta man


    Love it!!!

  23. Parson Brown

    Having one pediatric Cardiologist on the island is hard but it is a legitimate career and needed career because new borns and young kids are definitely different from us hard back adults (JACK SPRATT!) Read your stupid statement again before asking me crap. Perhaps if you have kids and they are more intelligent than you, you know a needed profession now that they can aim for. GOOD LUCK Jack Spratt Kids.

  24. vancet

    teefing idiots ruining Barbados

  25. the whole of barbados is build on stealing and corruption. they dont give a damn about any1 but they fat pockets but as bob marley says time will tell and you can fool some ppl sometimes but u cant fool all the ppl all the time

  26. Question

    Can someone check in the registry and see who are the shareholders/ directors of the Sparman clinic? I understand the electrical wiring in the Sparman clinic is all messed up and there are many who are asking how did the T&CP and the GED gave permission for this clinic to open in the first place when the placed is a fire hazard. Do you know there are no “built as” electrical circuitry drawings for this “20 million dollar” establishment? Once again Sparman tries to fool the public with a lot of pomp and show and when one looks under the surface the true quality of the product is revealed. I want to know which GED inspector(s) passed this project? I also want to know if this person was pressured by a Minister or received some sort of largess from Sparman? I know that when Sparman reads this, and I know he does, he is going to hit the roof because this information was never meant for public consumption.

  27. David G. Brooks

    @Parson Brown … If they was no Paediatric Cardiologist around would you tell ‘another’ Cardiologist (and I do NOT mean Sparman, please) not to touch your child if he/she was in serious condition and needed attention? I have kids and I would consider myself a jack-ass if I took that stance.

    @rasta man … what would have been the ‘correct’ letterhead to use in this case? This part of the issue seems not to have been touched. Should he have used his own (Dr. Ishmael) letterhead? I would have thought that would have been worse. Was he he not acting as a member of the QEH when he wrote the letter?

    Anyway, the fact that they allowed back to look after emergencies only tells one that they (QEH Management) are trying to blow smoke up everyone’s backsides. In other words, an elaborate RUSE.

    To quote Debra Burlingame …
    “This is a ruse to convey to the public that they somehow are doing something.”

  28. David G. Brooks

    I cannot help thinking that there are many other issues at play here – of course, they are … always is the case – but the one that strikes me most is the changing of the guard aspect – i.e. the passing of David Thompson and the rise of Freundel Stuart as PM – the former PM put a number of younger (as in what we call middle age and/or person of his own age bracket) into various senior and important positions in Barbados, both in Government and Quasi-Govt., like the QEH, Senate, etc.

    Are we witnessing some grand-standing in order to show ones mettle to the new PM, unless when and if he decides he wants his own ‘lieutenants’ in strategic places they may not find favour?

    This aspect and the fact that Dr. Ishmael was the late PM’s doctor intrigues me. Not any of you?

  29. de hood

    @ David G. Brooks
    December 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    @Parson Brown … If they was no Paediatric Cardiologist around would you tell ‘another’ Cardiologist (and I do NOT mean Sparman, please). . . . . . . .
    So just what’s your problem with DOCTOR Sparman, Sir? Could it be because he is a successful black foreigner cardiologist here in “little ENGLAND”? If such is not the case could you provide us with ACTUAL PROOF as to what could be wrong with him otherwise? I might add that he just recently did a marvelous bit of medical work with my wife’s heart complaints, including an angiogram by the way.

  30. Question

    @ de hood: I am still trying to decide if you love your wife. I love mine therefore Sparman will never be afforded to opportunity to look after my wife’s heart.

  31. David G. Brooks

    @de hood … you know, it really gets tiring with all of this black/race thing … would it be too much to ask you to grow up and mature … my cardiologist is Dr. Massey by the way, is his skin colour dark enough for you?

    I particularly meant Dr. Sparman in the Paediatric aspect because there are even more issues with paediatric interventional cardiology to consider and I am not sure I like them especially if the specialist is not “paediatric” trained (as opposed to a non-interventional non-paediatric cardiologist), namely,

    Children are considerably more sensitive to radiation than adults. Risk factors for cancer induction in children is between 2 and 3 times higher than for adults. Children have longer life expectancy and therefore a greater potential for manifestation of possible harmful effects of radiation used in angioplasty.

    Compared with a 40-year old, a neonate is several times more likely to produce a cancer over the child’s lifetime, when exposed to the same radiation dose. So the radiation doses used to examine young children must generally be smaller than those employed in adults

    Otherwise, I am not impressed with him (call it a gut feeling) and, his back-ground aside, if there is even the slightest bit of truth to what Dr. Ishmael said about him in the letter, then I would have to call his (Sparman’s) ethics into question and the Minister’s too. That’s my opinion and judgement and am entitled to that.

    He may be a good Interventional Cardiologist but that is NOT the issue here.

  32. Johnny Postle

    Pertinent question by those posing them. YOu do not have to look far to see that Inniss is definitely in allegiance with Sparman. Man just take a look at the photo during the opening ceremony for the clinic.

    My grandfather told me that in order to be a good politician you have to be a good liar. And in order to be a bad politician you just simply have to tell the truth. So Sparman has already proven himself over and away to dabble in fraudulent activity. Do anyone expect him to come clean in an island where corruption is widespread and rampant.

  33. David G. Brooks

    Quoting myself … “He may be a good Interventional Cardiologist but that is NOT the issue here.”

    Let me qualify that a bit more …

    As mentioned, if he was trying to get a critical ill patient moved from the QEH to his clinic, then that does not say much for his medical judgement – to say the least.

  34. Question

    Sparman is a high risk taker of the highest order. I think that this is just the nature of the beast. When doing interventional procedures one should have an open heart surgical team on stand by, can anyone of the Sparman supporters/ handles/ apologist please let us know what Sparman does to ensure such coverage is in place? I notice no one has taken me up on the fact that his new clinic is a fire hazard. Why am I not surprised?

  35. different ID's and identities

    Who do you know that carries around different identity documents unless they are a spy, trying to hide something and or/a confidence man?

    What government officials turned the other way and for how much?

    Only in Barbados!

  36. de hood

    different ID’s and identities
    January 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Who do you know that carries around different identity documents unless they are a spy, trying to hide something and or/a confidence man?

    What government officials turned the other way and for how much?

    Only in Barbados!
    Maybe he was working for “the Company” (you know, de CIA) would that not account for his aliases? 🙂

  37. de hood

    @ David G. Brooks

    OK, I misunderstood your initial comment, Sir. However, I saw it mentioned somewhere that “a relative” was supposed to have made contact with Dr. Sparman re having the patient transferred from the QEH. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement. But I guess we will never know all the pertinent facts of this issue regardless of whether there is an inquiry on no inquiry. We all know from experience how these “Commissions of Inquiries” all end up (e.g. the St. Joseph Hospital, as well as many others).

  38. David G. Brooks

    Question … “When doing interventional procedures one should have an open heart surgical team on stand by” … you are perfectly correct. So I am not sure I like the odds even though QEH and his clinic are minutes away, should something go wrong.

    @de hood … “that “a relative” was supposed to have made contact with Dr. Sparman re having the patient transferred from the QEH” … yes, I saw that too but it did jive with the rest of the story almost like it was thrown in as an after-thought, just to cast a measure of doubt.

  39. Insured

    I wonder if any of our insurance companies invested in this million $$$$ interpri$e?

  40. Question

    No insurance company invested in the Sparman Clinic. I heard the persons who invested are Donville’s family and Bizzy Williams.

  41. Pingback: Barbados National Union of Public Workers building mini-hospital | Barbados Free Press

  42. Pingback: Sparman – Ishmael Affair: Queen Elizabeth Hospital cancels suspension, lawsuits fly | Barbados Free Press

  43. balanced news

    Is Richard Ishmael a board certified Cardiologist? This link answers all Questions of The American Board.If u r certified u will be on the list. Check this out De HOOD . .Put these cardiologists name in there

  44. rastaman2

    That sparman is an idiot. He is always strutting around with beautiful girls.I heard he still beats women.once a wife beater is always a wife beater. Why can’t one of these women report him here in this country then we could really prosecute the bastard. Now I am mad with ismael for two things.1.. i googled him and find out he is not board certified or registered to practice child cardiology(QEH should look for a real pediatric cardiologist) .2 He could have done better for our dear late PM. How could a doctor whom professed himself a child cardiologist be treating this great leader with pancreatic cancer whilst we have three great specialist in this rock that is specialised in Pancreatic disease. Boy ishmael u get away wid murda

  45. balanced news

    I heard Mr Sparman wrote about Dr Ishmael in his new book 1.58 seconds…saw it in the sunday sun yesterday…you saw it johnny?

  46. rastaman2

    i didnt see ishmael in the book??? “balance news” was ishmael jimmy smith??

  47. Marcelo

    Dr. Sparman bought US17K from my company in USA and never paid me neither asnwer my calls.. its been over a year already. does anyone here now a good lawyer to sue him? please advise. thank you

  48. Derryk Alleyne

    I think what is important, is that we stop trying to understand what is happening now, and try to find out what can be done to correct something which is clearly a necessity in Barbados, that being specialists in pediatric cardiac care. Every year, the government spends a few thousands to send children abroad for care.
    I think we shouldn’t be surprised that there is only one pediatric cardiologist on the island. Each year students graduate from UWI and enter specialty training, however, there is no position or incentive to stay! The question we should ask, is how health care policies can be reform to produce a substantial and necessary service which is needed in the country! I hope that one day, I can contribute to my country as I aspire to enter the field of pediatric cardiac care!

  49. Mrs. Waymerry

    What is the current situation with the Sparman Clinic? Is is operating? Is there government investment? Is it a success since this article a few years ago?

  50. Clanger

    What happened to this story? Why no follow up? There was ’nuff smoke here so there should have been some fire somewhere.

  51. Ssssssss

    Why is it that the qeh labour and delivery (barbados) bathroom n rooms r so dirty with blood etc …..a girl was 4cm dilated n there just giv her an enema so she wanted to go quickly to bathroom n she said nurse this bathroom real nasty and the thing s the girl in pain yeh with high bp and the nurse say clean it off with paper thing is there was only one bathroom light which was working n they wasnt no toilet paper that girl was enuff to pick up an infection coz she had opened to 4cm i mean this is sad n sick and it needs to be looked into n those midwives well some are very unmannerly n dont carish and they need to be scolded are going back to training on how to treat clients