Doctors demand answers after colleagues moved from Couva Hospital

Eleven doctors have written to the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) board demanding an urgent independent and transparent investigation into the reassignment of four specialist doctors out of the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility.

They said this was done at a time where their services are desperately needed.

The doctors – three senior doctors and the facility’s only pulmonologist – were reassigned last Wednesday.

In a release the NCRHA didn’t say where the doctors were reassigned to, but said the move was part of a new rotation system, requested by the medical chief of staff at Couva, to prevent burnout among doctors working in the parallel health care system.

NCRHA director of health Dr Malachy Ojuro said Medical Chief of Staff Dr Don Martin two weeks ago suggested a system where doctors should be “rotated and reintegrated into the parallel system to prevent burnout.”

But in a media report on Saturday, Martin denied the NCRHA’s claim that he had asked for the rotations two weeks ago. He called out the RHA for using him as a scapegoat to rotate specialist doctors out of Couva.

He admitted to suggesting and requesting a rotation system in 2020, but said the request was made at a time where the covid19 infection rate was significantly low. He denied making it when the health system is desperately grappling to bring covid19 cases and deaths down.

The TT Medical Association and TT Regis­tered Nurses Association have since described the move as demoralising.

“The NCRHA and Dr Don Martin’s positions are clearly contradictory,” the doctors suggested in the three-page letter sent to the media on Monday.

They asked the board to come clean on what is happening behind closed doors with regard to the rotation of some of the hospital's most critical staff members in a time when covid19 patients in the parallel system are in desperate need of specialised and experienced care.

They said the board must quickly recognise that this move could destabilise the delivery of health care to patients with covid19 and has the potential to affect all patients.

“This current wave has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Health as our worst to date," they wrote, "and our nation is under a state of emergency. We find it concerning in the extreme that the NCRHA has decided to remove these physicians at this time.”

They also wanted the board to say what is the "real reason" behind the move, commenting that the “inconsistent and confusing explanations" given by the RHA "suggest these physicians were removed without clear or any justifications, against their will and with no thought as to the adverse impact on the wider public.”

The doctors charged that if any wrongdoing is identified, the board must hold those at fault accountable.

When contacted, NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas suggested Newsday should put questions about the matter to members of the board, as the letter was directed to them.

Asked if he was a part of a meeting hosted two weeks ago, as stated in NCRHA’s release last week, where he and Martin agreed to go ahead with a rotation, Thomas said he preferred not to comment on that matter.

Attempts to reach the board were unsuccessful.


"Doctors demand answers after colleagues moved from Couva Hospital"

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