George: TRHA ‘a renegade totally out of control’
Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George is calling for all the Regional Health Authorities to be under one umbrella managed by the Ministry of Health.
George was responding to a recent Guardian report about a $70 million Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory for heart patients in Tobago, which has not been utilised for five years.
Patients who have to undergo heart procedures are sent to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Trinidad for treatment.
Minority Councillor Dr Faith BYisrael weighed in as well, condemning the “continued mismanagement” of the island’s health care system.
Describing it as a “culture of squandermania” in the Tobago Regional Health Authority, George said, “It is no surprise the recent revelations of the massive wastage of taxpayers dollars…We have repeatedly called upon the Government to have a look at the entire Regional health Authority structure. It is a failed model. It does not produce results. You have massive inconsistencies within the various health authorities.
“South West do their own thing, North Central do their own thing, North West, Eastern do their own thing and Tobago is just a renegade outfit totally out of control. This attempt at decentralisation is not the best model. You have five separate entities and each setting their own standards.”
George added, “Our health sector is in total shambles. Tobago is a special case because while the other health authorities are under the direct ambit of the Minister of Health. The TRHA has been specifically carved out from the minister’s direct control and responsibility. He has no direct control over them from a legislative perspective and the results are clear.”
George said there are dedicated worker sin the TRHA and “a few bright sparks” but said the managerial structure and style must change.
“Bring them into harmony under one umbrella. these are the reasons problems persist,” he said.
In a video posted on WhatsApp, BYisrael said, “I would like the members of the media to ask clear questions: were the pieces of equipment actually purchased and installed at the CAT lab; were the operating procedures designed a written and approved for use of the CAT lab; were members of staff specifically trained to function at the CAT lab.”
BYisrael said the TRHA must come clean about the status of the lab and why it is not being used.
“This idea that it is not functioning now because we don’t have staff, is not correct. My understanding is that there were significant members of staff trained but because they were not being used, those members of staff decided to go where their skills are being appreciated. We now have a situation where we have an entire lab that should have been used to ensure the Tobago population has good heart health care is now a white elephant.”
BYisrael said she was not happy with the response by Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine.
“As if they could simply go, flip a switch an turn on all those technical equipment that has been sitting there for the last five years. These are specialised equipment, we can’t just go flip a switch to think they would work. These are pieces of equipment that should have been functioning, calibrated, being used for the last couple years.”
She added, “This is sad, sickening, disturbing and disappointing. We currently have a situation where we are sending people to Trinidad to procure services where we have spent the money and they could have done it in Tobago. We could have people coming from Trinidad to Tobago to get the best cat lab services. We continue to waste, mismanage and be inefficient in our health care system.”
BY: STEPHON NICHOLAS