Griffith: Government can't shift blame for babies' deaths

NTA political leader and former commissioner of police Gary Griffith. - File photo
NTA political leader and former commissioner of police Gary Griffith. - File photo

NATIONAL Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith says Government cannot shift blame for the deaths of babies at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the Port of Spain General Hospital to anyone else but itself.

In a statement on April 19, Griffith asked, "Was there a failure to adhere to standard protocols, considering that infections and subsequent deaths continued after the initial incidents? This implies a potential oversight in ensuring thorough sterilisation of the affected space or a deviation from the process before reintroducing other infants to the NICU."

Seven babies died at the NICU between April 4-9 from a suspected bacteriological infection.

Griffith said, "It is absolutely unacceptable for our Government to resort to its usual tactic of shifting blame onto a middle manager, as recent news reports indicate."

In a statement on April 18, the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) said head of the Infection and Control Department Dr Darrel Jones was sent on administrative leave after the deaths of the babies.

Griffith said if the necessary protocols were in place with proper checks and balances, alarms should have sounded much earlier, preventing such a catastrophe.

"What is imperative now is for accountability to come from the top leadership and for the implementation of robust systems to prevent a repeat of this tragedy in the future."

He called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to promptly disclose the ministry’s local neonatal sepsis outbreak-management protocol guidelines, along with their date of implementation and the most recent update, ensuring alignment with the latest evidence-based guidelines.

"These guidelines ought to have been crafted with strong checks and balances to prevent such catastrophic outcomes."

Griffith said this situation prompts numerous inquiries.

"Were adequate staffing levels maintained in the NICU? Were essential sepsis prevention techniques, such as stringent hand hygiene, patient isolation, and additional contact precautions, effectively implemented? At what juncture was it recognised or alerted that the infant mortalities indicated a potential breach in the sepsis outbreak protocol? Furthermore, what remedial actions were initiated in response?"

Griffith said this incident has deeply traumatised the nation and should be a pivotal moment, prompting citizens to unite and demand accountability from those in authority."

He added it is time for the Prime Minister and those who are accountable to "acknowledge 'enough is enough' and step down from their positions of authority."


"Griffith: Government can’t shift blame for babies’ deaths"

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