Health minister in hot water with nurses

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh

HEALTH MINISTER Terrance Deyalsingh has landed in hot water with nurses over statements he made on Friday that reports of a nurse being injured by a falling tile at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope last month were not true.

During a tour of the Neonatal Unit at Sangre Grande County Hospital, Deyalsingh, in response to questions from reporters, said the ceiling “never touched the nurse.”

The minister would go on to relate “that part of the ceiling fell and was lodged above the door, six feet above. The ceiling did not touch the nurse.

“She was examined and there were no external signs of abrasions or injuries. She may have been surprised or scared, as anybody would have been. We know how facts and fiction can come together as one.”

That statement is not sitting well with the TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) whose president Idi Stuart said yesterday that nurses were angry and questioned the basis for his claims in the face of a medical report which lists the injuries the nurse sustained.

Idi Stuart

Stuart said the nurse was “severely traumatised” by Deyalsingh’s statements and did not want to reveal her identity, fearing victimisation.

He said the injured nurse, who is her late 20s, remains on extended sick leave and has to do a neurological test. He confirmed that to date she has two CT scans but said she is not given any special privilege as a member of staff and has to wait her turn like any other patient.

On May 17, while on an 11 pm to 7 am shift, the nurse was rescued helped by colleagues after she was hit by a tile and metal frame which came crashing down from the bathroom ceiling as she was about to enter. Stuart said the medical report showed she suffered a concussion and began vomiting. He said she also suffered abrasions and indentation on her head.

“I have all the medical reports, we would want to ask the minister where is his evidence that nothing is wrong with her? What report is he reviewing that says nothing happened to her, that she sustained no injury?” asked Staurt.

He said the nurse found it unfortunate that the minister would “come out in the public domain to say she is lying. That is extremely unfortunate in an environment area where we have had numerous accidents and injuries of nursing personnel.”

Stuart said the TTRNA has filed a request with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Agency to see if they have all reported accidents at health institutions and will pressure the agency to take legal action against regional health authorities.

He said following the accident she was given five days sick leave by the doctor who attended to her in the Accident & Emergency Department. He said she was administered morphine and gravol. He said before the sick leave was up, the nurse returned to EWMSC and was warded.

“I would hate to think the doctors at EWMSC are incompetent, I would hate to think the minister is calling the doctors at A&E incompetent. She went back before the five days were up and was given panadeine and tramacet for the pain by another doctor,” he said.

“It is either the minister is right and all these doctors and nurses and OSH officers are lying and they are basically incompetent because they cannot assess if someone is injured or not.”

He said the nurse, considered a model nurse by colleagues, wants to recover and return to work and does not want to take legal action.

However, the TTRNA has advised it would take legal action because it cannot let the RHA and the minister get away with the statements made in the public domain. “We have to hold them accountable,” he said.


"Health minister in hot water with nurses"

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