Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 29th 2015 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Officials of the North West Regional
Health Authority (NWRHA) are working
feverishly to preserve the health and phys-
ical safety of patients warded at the central
block of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital
after concerns were expressed about the
building s structural integrity.
Confirming the matter was serious and
required immediate attention, Health Min-
ister Dr Fuad Khan yesterday said: "It is
very urgent, although it has been standing
up so far, but I don t want it to fall."
Speaking exclusively with the T&T
Guardian following the opening of a two-
day mental health workshop at the Hyatt
Regency, Port-of-Spain, Khan revealed that
discussions had continued with NWRHA
chairman Dr Andy Bhagwandass prior to
the workshop yesterday morning.
Officials had identified an area towards
the back of the Port-of-Spain General Hos-
pital compound---where the old nurses
quarters had previously stood before being
"We want to put up a five-storey struc-
ture, but the new Town and Country Plan-
ning Regulations could allow to go as high
as 15 storeys."
Referring to the construction of the new
administrative complex of the Ministry of
Tertiary Education and Skills Training
(MTEST) at Narsaloo Ramaya Trace, off
Endeavour Flyover, Chaguanas, Khan boast-
ed that work was completed within eight
Construction work on the new building,
which sits on 15 acres of land adjacent to
the Divali Nagar, commenced on April 1,
2014, and was completed by December
Saying that it was possible for a completed
structure to be erected within a reasonable
time frame, Khan said his ministry was
working feverishly to address the problem.
Meanwhile, chief executive officer of the
NWRHA Judith Balliram confirmed that
the tender was out for the construction of
a new eight-storey building.
With overall responsibility for the 600-
bed facility which includes both the main
hospital and maternity department, Balliram
said they had already selected the English
company IHG to assist in the process.
Pressed to say exactly how much this
would cost, Balliram was unable to provide
an exact figure as the tendering process was
She said the final cost would be deter-
mined when a contractor was selected, but
estimated that it would cost "more than
Asked where that money would come
from, Balliram said that was yet to be deter-
The tender process is expected to be com-
pleted within the next three months.
Revealing that there were currently 100
patients warded at the hospital which also
houses the Intensive Care Unit, Balliram
said T&T had experienced many earthquakes
over the years, but no mishaps had occurred
at the hospital.
Acknowledging the integrity issue, Bal-
liram promised that along with officials
from the Ministry of Health, they were
working "on building an entirely new block
and within deadlines."
A High Court Judge has called on regional health
authorities to stop taking on contract workers for
managerial and permanent administrative posi-
tions so as to ensure those who hold top offices
are properly vetted and free from political influ-
Justice Frank Seepersad made the statement on
Monday after handing down a ruling in favour of
a former contracted general finance manager/acting
chief executive officer of the North West Regional
Health Authority (NWRHA) Ursula Wilson.
Wilson brought a lawsuit against the NWRHA
claiming she was not properly compensated after
her dismissal in 2007.
In its defence, the NWRHA denied Wilson was
entitled to any of the reliefs she sought.
In his judgment, Seepersad said: "In a nation
where the public health sector is overburdened and
pressured, serious thought should be given for the
establishment of permanent administrative and
managerial posts within the regional health author-
"So that those employed can be properly vetted
and appointed on a merit basis with a clear mandate
and in an environment where they can execute
their roles without disruption and free from political
influence," he said.
Seepersad said while this type of employment
benefited the employer, it should be reviewed.
"In the public service, contract employees usually
escape the rigours and review that are associated
with the service commissions."
He said although service commissions might be
"antiquated," they provided insulation against polit-
"The rapid pace with which contract staff in key
managerial and administrative positions seem to
change, especially when there is a change of gov-
ernment, does not augur well for consistency and
continuity. Very often the new contracted persons
are thrown in head first and have to acclimatise
and await the new policy directives of the politicians
of the day and this leads to persons holding critical
and strategic posts operating in an inefficient vac-
He said because of the unreliability of contract
employment, both the public and the contracted
"Consequently professionals are left in a state
of uncertainty and the public is met with inefficiency
and ineffectiveness. Many contract employees are
also prejudiced and loans and mortgages are at
times beyond their reach having regard to the ten-
uous nature of their employment."
Jason Brathwaite, who was sentenced
by Justice Geoffrey Henderson at the San
Fernando Assizes to a total of 15 years in
jail in 2013 after being found guilty by a
jury of shooting with intent, has won his
appeal as his conviction and sentence was
quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Braithwaite was accused of committing
the crime against Leslie Williams on October
17, 2003. Williams had testified that Brath-
waite, who was well known to him, had
approached him in the street and shot him
twice over a debt Brathwaite said was owed
to him by Williams. Braithwaithe was also
accused of possession of arms and ammu-
The court, in allowing the appeal and
delivering judgment, held that it accepted
the arguments of Braithwaite s lawyer Evans
Welch who had submitted to the court that
the trial judge fell into error in his summation
of the case to the jury when he stressed the
issue of mistaken identification, but did not
adequately direct the jury on the issue of
whether the case was one of fabrication
against his client.
The appellate court also noted that while
it was always important to have serious
criminal matters, especially involving
firearms, tried by the court, the court did
not think it appropriate to order a retrial of
the matter, having regard to the time which
had passed since the conviction and sen-
tence. This resulted in the complete discharge
of Brathwaite from the charges, so he will
not have to face a retrial.
Central block of city
hospital not safe
Judge tells health authorities...
for key positions
Seepersad ordered the NWRHA to pay
Wilson, who was hired on contract in 2005
and terminated in 2007, over $122,000 in
Wilson was compensated one month's
salary of $19,000 for the NWRHA's failure to
give her notice of the termination of her
position as general manager of finance.
She was also awarded gratuity payments of
$66,700 on her contracts as general manager
of finance and acting CEO.
She was also awarded $29,213.03 as a
salary difference for the period September
2006 to January 12, 2007, and $7,861.42 as
payment for 14 and a half vacation days.
Appeal Court frees man on shooting charges
Mental Health consultant and chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority Dr
Rampersad Parasram, second right, speaks to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, second left,
and NWRHA chairman Dr Andy Bhagwandass, after the opening ceremony for the
ministry's training workshop which focused on integrating mental health into primary
healthcare, at Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. At left is PAHO/WHO T&T representative Dr
Bernadette Theodore-Gandi. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
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