February 5, 2010
Dr. Gonsalves: More Hospital supplies missing

“Since some people down there may want to leak documents, leak these.”

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was referring to documents from the files of the Ministry of Health, which suggested that what he had spoken about last year – items being stolen from the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, was justified.{{more}}

As he was wrapping up the debate on the 2010 budget last Friday, Gonsalves presented a letter written to Lanceford Weekes, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, from Manager of the Medical Stores Levi Walker in May 2009, complaining of what he referred to as ‘suspicion of pilferage of Central Medical stores’.

The letter read: ‘Central Medical Stores is facing a grave challenge in its proper accountability for certain inventory of certain items under its charge. Apart from the difficulty imposed by a manual inventory system, we believe that there are real instances of misappropriation by certain staff members.’

The Prime Minister said that in the letter, Walker highlighted a situation that he said he believed to be an attempt at pilferage, but did not indicate what that situation was, or who the perpetrators were.

The letter went on to say that the situation, which has been taking place for years, had ‘become unbearable and needed to be addressed.’

Dr. Gonsalves listed a quantity of items that were said to be unaccounted for.

This includes 544 cakes of toilet soap, 820 cakes of washing soap, 63 bottles of dishwashing liquid, 8,160 aspirins, 22,000 Paracetamol tablets, 16,000 Bezide tablets, 255 units of Propofol, 236 litres of bleach and 150 packs of sterile gloves.

“So when I spoke, you know I don’t open my mouth unless I know what I’m talking about… and you realized how much I was being traduced by the NDP (New Democratic Party). But since they raised it, I had to put out the story.”

“There is a camera you know, but the camera ain’t slick enough,” the Prime Minister joked.

Getting serious once again, the Prime Minister continued:

“We have to do something about that area down there.”

“I am glad that it has come out, so that the Minister of Health, who is a good administrator, will take a hands on approach to that and let us in the interest of this country get the matter under control once and for all.”