ATTORNEY Martin George says that the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) has accepted liability in the neonatal and maternal deaths at the Scarborough General Hospital last year.
However, he claims that the TRHA is now refusing to release the report into the deaths of Leciana Mitchell-Sheppard and her son, Ajani.
He is accusing the TRHA of â€śevasion, deception and subterfuge as it relates to Tobagoâ€™s health sector.â€ť George says, â€śThis goes beyond this case. Every citizen that has to access those facilities should be concerned.â€ť
George, who is acting for Sheppardâ€™s husband, Brinsley, is bringing a civil case against the TRHA on behalf of his client. He showed Tobago News an excerpt of the TRHAâ€™s defence to the case, which is stamped March 27, 2015 by the Civil Court Office, Tobago. It states, â€śAs regards the particulars of pain and suffering (ii) to (vii) the Defendant (TRHA) states that the Claimant (Brinsley Sheppard) is not entitled to any report prepared in relation to the deaths as any such report is not directly relevant to any matter in question in the proceedings as the Defendant has admitted liability and that the said report is in the nature of an opinion, advise or recommendations to the Defendant. The circumstances of the death were set out in the Medical Reports in which the Claimant has had access. Further, the Defendant would rely on the principles of legal professional privileges as it relates to the said or any report produced on inquiry to the deaths of Leciana Mitchell-Sheppard and the neonate Ajani Merri Sheppard.â€ť
This latest obstacle presents yet another delay to members of the Sheppard family, who remain without closure after losing their loved ones on October 31. Just days later, another baby, Harmony Hope also died at the Scarbrough General Hospital.
An independent investigation, headed by physician and lawyer, Dr. Albert Persaud, was subsequently launched by the TRHA and the Tobago House of Assemblyâ€™s (THA) Division of Health and Social Services (DHSS). The investigation was initially scheduled to take two weeks; the TRHA then announced that it would take two months.
On March 25, the Secretary of Health and Social Services, Claudia Groome-Duke pledged that the families would receive details of the investigation by April 1. Weeks later, and Brinsley Sheppard says he is still waiting for the report.
When questioned about the delay earlier this month, Groome-Duke stated that she had been informed that the THAâ€™s Senior State Counsel, Alvin Pascal had made contact with Sheppardâ€™s legal adviser.
Speaking to the Tobago News on Friday, Secretary Groome-Duke offered no clarification on the recent developments saying only, â€śIf this is a statement made by Attorney Martin George then it means that the lawyers are talking.â€ť
She had earlier referred the paper to Alvin Pascal. Despite repeated attempts, Tobago News has been unable to reach Pascal for clarification on the matter.
Tobago News contacted George following the Secretaryâ€™s brief statement, who states he has had no discussions with Pascal. â€śThat is a lie. She is lying. We are having no discussions on the matter. None whatsoever. All we got from them is their defence which was filed by the TRHA. We have had no discussions and they have refused to disclose the report,â€ť states George.
He did not disclose his immediate course of action, but has said that he will continue to fight for justice for his client Brinsley Sheppard.
Extracted from : Tobago News