The task force set up to look into the operations at the Scarborough General Hospital met for the first time on Tuesday.
Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles made the announcement as he responded to questions posed by Minority Councillor Dr Faith BYisrael during Thursday’s 33rd sitting of the Assembly at the Assembly Legislature Chamber in Scarborough.
In November 2019, speaking at a news conference held at the Division of Infrastructure’s conference room, Charles announced the establishment of a task force to have a comprehensive look and review at the healthcare delivery system in Tobago.
“The first meeting of the task force was held on January 21, 2020 and the committee’s life, initially, is expected to run for a period of four weeks from the date of commencement,” he said.
The members of the task force are chief administrator Bernadette Solomon-Koroma (chairperson), Dr Anton Cumberbatch, human resource consultant Carol David, former TRHA CEO Ashworth Learmont and Cecile Beckles.
On the functions of the task force he said, "Reviewing the organisation's structure of the TRHA to determine how the organisation is managed and how personnel is distributed, reviewing the financial operations of the TRHA, reviewing levels of healthcare delivery through the operations of the TRHA, the CMOH and the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development, the authorisation of resources both human and non-human, as well as the maintenance of healthcare facilities.”
In 2019, several issues were raised about the health facilities in Tobago and there were calls for the removal of the Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development Dr Agatha Carrington. Charles said the findings of the task force would aid in the Executive Council making informed decisions about the way forward.
Dr BYisrael also pressed the health secretary for an update on the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) payroll audit conducted. On March 20, 2019 the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development said the TRHA would be engaging an independent payroll audit team to assist with reviewing the Authority’s payroll.
This independent review, according to a press release from the division, has become necessary to manage the RHA’s expenditure in a more efficient manner.
The division said, given the high level of independence required for the review process, some members of staff in the finance, human resources and information technology departments were sent on administrative leave with full pay and benefits.
In July, Dr Carrington said the audit report would be made public shortly, and in September, she said TRHA’s CEO Sheldon Cyrus was scheduled to present recommendations to the Authority’s board of directors at the next scheduled board meeting.
Responding for an update, Carrington promised to make the report public by next month.
“The report of the TRHA payroll audit will be made available to the public by a media release. This would be done following the next board meeting of the TRHA board in February.
“The recommendations made by the CEO about the audit include that these seven persons on administrative leave be reinstated and that the recommended measures be put in place to strengthen the internal processes as the auditors recommended,” she said adding that all recommendations coming out of the exercise would be fully implemented.
The employees have all been reinstated.