-Minister believes Union’s concerns should have been addressed
A two-week extension has been requested to facilitate the continuance of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) that was set up to probe allegations that have been levelled against Sister Collene Hicks, Director of Nursing Services (Matron) of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
This development was recently revealed by Chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors, Dr. Carl ‘Max’ Hanoman.
According to Dr. Hanoman, he was hoping to convene a board meeting this week, during which the request for the extension would be addressed.
Hicks was sent on administrative leave in July to facilitate the COI. But the work of the COI only commenced in earnest during the month of October and was expected to last for one month.
The COI, headed by former General Secretary of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Ms. Chandrawattie Persaud, was tasked with assessing the truthfulness of the allegations or complaints, and make determination as to whether these have been injurious or destructive to the effective and efficient delivery of the health care delivered at the GPHC.
Based on the COI’s Terms of Reference (TOR), the Commission was expected to compile, through interviews with staff of the hospital, including doctors and nurses or through investigations, a list of allegations or complaints of displeasure or misconduct against the Director of Nursing Services.
Among other things, the COI was expected to specifically examine the promotion of nurses under the Director of Nursing Services to determine whether these were based on merit. Added to this, the Commission was tasked with examining the relationship between the Director of Nursing Services and the doctors of the institution, to ascertain if this affected the delivery of health care at the hospital.
The COI was also designed to determine whether the Director of Nursing Services committed acts of insubordination during the period September 15, 2015 to July 20, 2016.
“What we also have to look at specifically is that 150 persons within the organisation signed a petition against the Director of Nursing Services and we would want to enquire what the issues are to cause that petition,” Persaud had told this publication.
At the start of the COI, she revealed that the investigation could entail the interviewing of the 150 or even more individuals as part of the process. “We intend to have a balanced process,” asserted Persaud.
But the process from the inception was not viewed as balanced by the GPSU, which has been representing Hicks’ interest.
The Union in a statement had revealed that it already has no confidence in the outcome of the COI, since some of the Commission’s members have an association with the GPHC.
“It was felt that the association could influence the conduct of the inquiry, making it prejudicial against the subject of the inquiry,” the GPSU had asserted.
The union’s choice for the Commission was Mr. Reginald Brotherson, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service within the Ministry of the Presidency.
The other members, aside from Persaud, are Ms. Laurelle Daw, Director of Nursing Services at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital for the past seven years; Dr. Anwar Hussain who has racked-up decades of service at the GPHC and former Auditor General, Mr. Anand Goolsarran.
Speaking on the concerns raised by the GPSU, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton said that “if we are going to suspend somebody and investigate, then we must do it as efficiently as possible.” It is the belief of the Minister that if the Union is not satisfied with the persons selected to be a part of the Commission, measures should have been put in place to ensure that all concerned were satisfied.
“If the Union has a problem then we must address it, don’t go creating confrontations…We have somebody who is off the job, a job that is very important for the health of this nation and we can’t afford to be making those little grandstanding, I don’t know for what reason,” added the Minister.
In fact Minister Norton disclosed, “If I was handling it, it would have been three persons and not five on that commission, and people who satisfied all those concerned.”
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