HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Sunday dismissed claims from United National Congress MPs Dr Tim Gopeesingh and Dr Lackram Bodoe about discrimination taking place in TT’s health sector. They made their claims during a news conference at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Charles Street, Port of Spain.
On Gopeesingh’s question about “serious misconduct” by him regarding the non-renewal of a radiologist’s contract at the North West Regional Health Authority, Deyalsingh said the court has already ruled there was no substance to that claim.
Gopeesingh alleged a person involved in that matter had to have “information” that Deyalsingh “directed a doctor to be dismissed.” Deyalsingh observed, “Taxpayers’ money was used to defend that.”
He said Gopeesingh was “a stranger to the truth” about the hiring of local medical personnel. Deyalsingh said efforts are being made to recruit as many of these people as possible.
Identifying pediatric cardiologists, hematologists and pediatricians as some of the vacancies the ministry is trying to fill, Deyalsingh urged Gopeesingh to tell them “please send their resumes to me as soon as possible.”
Once these people are prepared to work for the terms and conditions in the public service, Deyalsingh said they could be hired immediately. Noting there is also a need for doctors to work in rural communities in TT, Deyalsingh urged them to send him their resumes as well. Gopeesingh claimed 680 local doctors and 1,065 local nurses are unemployed in TT.
He also claimed 1,840 non-nationals are employed in TT’s health sector. Deyalsingh added that if these positions cannot be filled locally, efforts would be made to source medical personnel from Cuba.
On Bodoe’s question about the opening of the Couva Children and Adult Hospital, Deyalsingh said the hospital was “based on lies” under the former People’s Partnership government.
He said these included a $1.5 billion loan to pay for its construction, Chagauanas West being the original location for the hospital and the facility not being solely a children’s hospital. Reiterating that Government has been speaking with the University of the West Indies (UWI) about the hospital’s future, Deyalsingh said a statement will be made about the hospital “in short order.”
In July, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the Couva hospital will now be a teaching hospital, owned by Government and run by UWI, and InterHealth of Canada will provide healthcare services in a model that TT is not accustomed to. He added this arrangement could also help Government to settle a $200 million debt it owes UWI.