Jan 12, 2017 News
– official adamant Cabinet should have no say in Board decisions
The jury is still out on the fate of Director of Nursing Services (Matron) of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Ms Collene Hicks. Hicks was, during the past year the subject of a Committee of Inquiry (COI) conducted at the public hospital. The outcome of the COI is that Hicks’ continued service will not be in the best interest of the institution.
Former Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, had revealed that the COI report will have to gain the attention of Cabinet after which a definitive decision will be made regarding Hicks.
However, an official close to the operation of the hospital is adamant that Cabinet should not have a say in the way forward regarding such a situation.
The official who requested anonymity said “we have in this country a Cabinet interfering with too many things.” In fact the official asserted that many people are not even aware that “it isn’t even the task of the Cabinet to choose the Chairman…it is the members.”
As such, the official noted that the fact that a Board-authorised COI recommended that Hicks should be terminated, there is no need for Cabinet to sanction if the Board had decided to embrace the recommendations of the COI.
A report of the COI findings was last month handed over to the former Public Health Minister, who had reviewed the findings and recommendations made by the Committee.
According to Minister Norton, a total of 52 employees of the GPHC testified during the course of the investigation which spanned just over a period of one month. The Committee also examined various correspondences, Dr. Norton had informed.
“The Commission is unanimous in its view that the continued engagement of Ms. Collene Hicks in her capacity as Director of Nursing Services would not be in the best interest of the GPHC,” Minister Norton had declared as he underscored that the recommendations of the Committee will “most likely” be implemented.
However, he had intimated that the findings were yet to be deliberated on at the level of Cabinet, where it is expected that an ultimate decision on the way forward will be made.
In addition to insisting that there should be no interference from Cabinet in the operation of the hospital, the official speculated about whether deliberate moves were made to prematurely bring the life of the Board to an end in order to permit unabated interference.
The life of the Board concluded at the end of November last year after about eight months of existence.
Although there has reportedly been no move to implement the recommendations of the COI, the official said that the nursing administration at the GPHC is currently in disarray and could continue in this vein if the Director of Nursing Services is reinstated. Hicks was sent on administrative leave in July to facilitate the investigation which commenced in earnest in October of last year.
The Committee was tasked with assessing the truthfulness of the allegations or complaints made against Hicks, and to determine whether these have been injurious or destructive to the effective and efficient delivery of the health care delivered at the GPHC.
The Committee was guided by a Terms of Reference (TOR), which required that it compile, through interviews with staff of the hospital, including doctors and nurses and/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 Committee 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 Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), which has been representing Hicks, has already indicated its unwillingness to accept the findings and the recommendations of the report, and has already condemned the work of the Committee.
But according to the official, “if the Director of Nursing Services is brought back, the moral of the hospital is likely to get worse. The official went on to point out that “the very union which has been fervently representing Hicks, has been failing to assist the younger nurses who make up the majority of nurses. The union don’t fight for them!”
According to the official too, there are currently two individuals sharing the position of Acting Director of Nursing Services in Hicks’ stead, one of whom is reportedly not qualified and “is a bully who doesn’t know how to speak to people and is one who abuses power.”
The official revealed that while the Board had recommended one person fill the void, a subsequent decision was made to put two acting Directors in place.
“If the Government doesn’t do something quickly, nursing will go down the drain, and I think somebody with knowledge should be there to guide the way forward…There is need for an urgent structural management change at the GPHC,” the official stressed.
The official is convinced that those tasked with managing nursing were well groomed by Hicks, who hadn’t exhibited the ability to be a team player at the institution. Consequently, those currently tasked with managing nursing have not been effective in their duties, and therefore have placed the institution at a disadvantage when the delivery of nursing is taken into consideration.
“The hospital is losing moral and ethical authority, and the funniest thing Hicks was fired by Mr (Michael) Khan (terminated CEO) and decisions were made to bring her back, and this was a slap in the face of the CEO at that time, because she was fired on the legitimate grounds of ‘gross insubordination’ and she came back and did the same thing,” the official opined.
The official disclosed that while the GPHC administration has not been lending support to the young nurses to further their studies, even the Union has not been representing them in this regard.
“There are many nurses who want to work on the night shift and they are denied that chance. It is during the night shift that the hospital has the biggest issue of nurses not coming to work…If a survey is done about how many absentees there are at nights, it will leave the nation aghast,” the official related.
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