Over 3,000 nurses have been granted leave to challenge the Health Minister’s decision to appoint selected members to the Nursing Council before any elected members were appointed. They were also granted permission to seek declarations that the decision of the minister to appoint David Murphy as a member of the council.
The nurses were given permission to challenge the minister by Justice Devindra Rampersad. They are seeking several declarations which also ask the court to find that the minister’s decision to allow his six selected members to elect a president of the council and an executive when there are no other members on the board, was unreasonable and irrational.
The nurses, who are represented by attorney Martin George, will be asking the court to quash all the minister’s decisions as it relates to the council and an order directing him to reconsider them. The matter will come up for hearing on March 10, while Murphy was granted permission to join in the proceedings.
The nurses, most of whom are members of the TT Registered Nurses Association, claim that the president of the nursing council is supposed to be elected by the nurses and mid-wives. They say the minister was aware that they did not want the former president on the council and were shocked when he reappointed Murphy.
Murphy, who was ousted as president of the council back in August 2019, took his former colleagues to court. In his lawsuit, he claimed the Nursing Personnel Act, which established the council, did not allow it to take major decisions after its term ended so his ouster was illegal.
His matter is being heard by Justice Frank Seepersad who is expected to give a decision on Monday. The nurses are also joined as interested parties in the matter. It was during the preliminary stages of Murphy’s lawsuit that Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh appointed his sis members of the council.
The council consists of 16 members. Six are selected by the Minister of Health, nine are elected by the over 10,000 members of the profession and the Chief Nursing Officer serves as an ex-officio member. The council then votes for a president, vice-president and treasurer.