You are here
NCRHA seeking private managers for Mt Hope
Protest action by staff has forced the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) to seek private partnerships for the management of services at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, says Health Minister Fuad Khan.
He said the NCRHA had also indicated to him that it suspected sabotage, since several pieces of equipment were believed to have been tampered with, including a $3 million drill and two air condition units which stopped working simultaneously.
“The board found it unusual that both units would go down at the same time,” Khan said.
On Tuesday, the NCRHA took out newspaper advertisements requesting expressions of interest from parties to enter into a public-private partnership to operate and manage 24 departments and services at the Mt Hope hospital. In a telephone interview yesterday, Khan explained the union was in “protest mode” and certain parts of the hospital and its patients were being seriously affected.
“For two weeks now patients have not been receiving full services at the hospital because of the union’s protest action,” said Khan. The union representing the employees is the Public Service Association (PSA). “Patients are being affected. People are coming in and signing in for work and then not going on to their departments,” Khan said. He said most departments had been affected but radiology and ancillary services were the most obvious.
“Many of the radiographers are not reporting for duty and the support staff is not working,” he said. Yesterday, several patients could not be treated as X-rays could not be obtained owing to the protest action. “The union was asking the NCRHA to have certain people removed from certain positions and were unhappy that the NCRHA had removed others,” Khan said.
He said the NCRHA had indicated to him the possibility of outsourcing the management of the services as a response to the protest action. Khan agreed with the NCRHA that something needed to be done but admitted that the measure had not been used at any other RHA. “The other RHAs aren’t giving trouble,” he said.
Asked how that would affect employees as well as the union at Mount Hope, Khan said they would be transferred under the management of the people who took over running the services. “We hope that PSA will apply to run these services,” Khan said. He described the move to invite private managers as “testing the waters.”
“If we do not get people to express interest then we cannot go forward,” he said. Asked if any staff of the hospital were ministry employees, he said a few were. In an interview yesterday, PSA president Watson Duke warned the Health Minister to rethink his position.
“If he thinks he has felt the fire, the heat he is feeling is only the smoke. Anytime they move forward with this private partnership plan to disenfranchise workers, I will take him on fully. Why aren’t the other RHAs doing it?” asked Duke. “I can assure you that what he is doing will result in his removal from that ministry,” he said.
Duke said the dispute, which both he and Khan said had been flaring up for about a year, was fundamentally an “arrears issue.” “The NCRHA has outstanding arrears owed to workers for allowances entitled to them. They are suspending workers left and right and instead of making workers permanent, offering contract positions.
“That was how it started but now they are trying to contract work out to their friends. “If Minister Khan proceeds, it will result in a total declaration of war from the PSA.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.