February 20, 2009
Doctors concerned over PM’s statement

Senior doctors are reportedly expressing concerns over recent statements that have been made by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves concerning incidents of theft at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, especially as it regards medications, which they have taken to be a direct accusation against them.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT has been informed that doctors have been complaining about the environment under which they now have to work because they have been coming in for sharp criticism and accusations which they believe to be wholly unfounded.

Dr Gonsalves first stirred much debate when he made remarks about pilferage at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital when he addressed a recent Symposium for senior government employees, among others.

The Prime Minister said then that items ranging from pillows and sheets to medical supplies and medication have been practically walking out of the hospital.

Sharp criticism was levied at him by the Public Service Union and a more toned down yet equally disagreeing statement was also issued by the Nurses Association, who said that nurses were being “chided as thieves”, since the statement was made public.

In a subsequent press conference, Dr Gonsalves defended his statement and said that while most employees at the hospital “work within and in accordance with the rules and regulations,” others don’t.

SEARCHLIGHT also understood that an example of the problem at the hospital was that a drug that was not considered dangerous had to be so classified because supplies disappeared after a shipment some time ago.

While information was that this happened recently, hospital Administrator Fitzroy Jones told SEARCHLIGHT that since he took office in 2007 there has been no incident with that drug.

“Since I am here, I have had red flags about other drugs and supplies but never had a flag in relation to that drug,” Jones said

A medical source confirmed that the drug was in fact reclassified a while ago because of a “mix up” with supplies but it was not within the last five years.

The drug in question was Syntocinon, which is used to induce labour and can also be administered to control heavy bleeding after a mother has given birth, but it can also be linked to the administration of an abortion.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke to the President of the Medical Association Dr Rosalind Ambrose who said “in time the Medical Association will take the course which they feel is appropriate.”

She was reluctant to discuss the matter of doctors’ concerns in detail but said that physicians are hearing what people are saying on radio programmes and “are talking about it.”