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There could be disruption at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) tomorrow should the doctors stay away from outpatient clinics and not perform elective procedures.
Yesterday, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dexter James, said while it was business as usual at the hospital yesterday, tomorrow would be the real test.
James, who took over as CEO of the QEH last October, was commenting on industrial action taken by doctors on Friday in protest over the termination of a contract of one of its consultants, radiologist Dr Cecil Rambarat, after 15 years at the hospital.
On Friday, another consultant, Dr Jerry Emtage, filed an injunction in the High Court against the hospital to prevent his own termination.
James said yesterday: “There was no adverse impact on patient care yesterday as doctors would have visited their patients on the wards as usual and those seeking care at the Accident & Emergency Department would have been accommodated.”
However, he said: “The strike will really be seen, if at all, from Monday [tomorrow]. For right now, everything is stable but from Monday, there could be disruption, as the doctors will not attend outpatient clinics and perform elective procedures.”
In a statement issued yesterday, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) said the association “has made every attempt to meet with the chairman and the current board of the QEH on issues affecting the QEH”.
According to the statement: “When the contractual issues surfaced, we requested an urgent meeting with the chairman who then designated the CEO as the board’s representative.”
At that meeting on June 28, BAMP contended that the CEO and the director of human resources were unable to respond to issues.
BAMP said that subsequently, the board designated an industrial relations adviser to meet with BAMP to continue discussions.
“Having met with him and outlined our concerns, we were promised a response in two weeks from the board. Whilst we awaited a response on these matters, the board proceeded to terminate the contract of a senior doctor.
“We do not understand the urgency with which such actions were implemented without due process,” added the release.
“Getting rid of medical personnel without any respect to the existing practices or human dignity, even if it is legally right, is fraught with dangers.”
But when contacted yesterday Minister of Health Donville Inniss said he had full confidence in the board of management of the QEH.
Although on holiday, he said he had been kept abreast of the situation by QEH board chairman Guy Hewitt.
The minister is expected back in office tomorrow.
James said Barbadians could rest assured that all life-threatening cases would be received by the hospital and “should the condition of any ward patient escalate to an emergency, based on the correspondence from BAMP, it is anticipated that doctors will see and treat all emergency cases”.
BAMP in its statement said “putting patient care to the forefront” has always been its mandate and that “continues to be the case”. (MK)