The impasse between the Medical Practitioners Association of Trinidad and Tobgao (MPATT) and the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) heightened yesterday with the reported refusal of St Ann's hospital to allow MPATT to meet on its compound.
A bitter battle is being waged between MPATT and NWRHA chief executive officer Judith Balliram-Ramoutar.
MPATT, in a release on Wednesday signed by its president Dr Shehenaz Mohammed, stated that it had formally complained to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan about Balliram-Ramoutar, who allegedly refused to allow MPATT to meet its members in the doctors' lounge at Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) last week Friday.
However, when contacted by the Express, Balliram-Ramoutar said that MPATT was up to "mischief" and had never sent any request in writing.
Regardless, Balliram-Ramoutar said the NWRHA board discussed the issue at its meeting and approved MPATT's meeting.
Balliram-Ramoutar said the approval of the board was needed before permission was given and two medical chiefs of staff at PoSGH can verify this.
Contacted on Wednesday, Mohammed said Balliram-Ramoutar's response was not a surprise to her "and it is a clear explanation of why the industrial relations climate is as it is now".
Documents obtained by the Express show that MPATT wrote PoSGH medical director Dr Suresh Pooran on October 5 requesting permission for a meeting to be held at PoSGH on October 12.
On October 8, Pooran wrote to Dr Ravi Narine of MPATT stating: "Please note that subsequent to the Hospital Administrator's and my approval for the above meeting, and my subsequent discussions with Mrs Judith Balliram-Ramoutar, chief executive officer of the North West Regional Health Authority, the scheduled meeting with MPATT on the compound of the Port of Spain General Hospital will not be possible."
According to MPATT's release, Balliram-Ramoutar's alleged refusal for the meeting came after approval was already granted by both the hospital administrator Kumar Boodram and medical director Pooran.
MPATT stated that it had informed Minister Khan that Balliram-Ramoutar was in breach of the constitutional right of the association and assembly (Section 4j), as well as the rights granted by the RHA Act and the RHA Conduct Rules and Regulations.
"The complaints of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) of poor industrial relations by the People's Partnership Government is exemplified by Mrs Balliram-Ramoutar's behaviour, attitude and disposition.
"MPATT would further like to inform the public of Trinidad and Tobago that the same NWRHA board, chaired by Dr Eddison Haqq, with Judith Balliram-Ramoutar as CEO, has been obtuse and disrespectful, in that it is the only regional health authority board that has not met with MPATT since the People's Partnership Government came into office," MPATT added.
MPATT stated further that it met with the SWRHA, ERHA and NCRHA.
MPATT has also written to the Minister of Labour and will be writing to the Prime Minister concerning the matter.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan told the Express on Wednesday that he was out of the country and only returned that day and had not yet seen MPATT's complaint letter.
The Express understands that the Health Minister has requested a meeting with all involved parties.