Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on Saturday night called for the “same yardstick” to be used in treating with all health care givers who make errors in the course of their jobs—whether it be a doctor or a nurse.
Speaking at a constituency meeting in Rio Claro in the build-up to the People’s National Movement (PNM) internal elections on May 18, Rowley said it was announced with great aplomb that the nurse who mismanaged the discharge of a patient, which led to her being given her dead foetus in a black garbage bag, was suspended immediately for this human error.
He called for the doctor who “cut through baby Simeon Cottle’s brain” to be suspended in the same way.
Rowley said the friends of the doctor, “who is well connected to some big belly people in the Government”, told the national community that what happened (with baby Simeon) was “all in a day’s work”.
“We seem not to be able to suspend a doctor...That is not fair,” said Rowley, questioning whether a nurse could be easily suspended because she is not a “big jefe”.
Told yesterday by the Express that Dr Javed Chinnia had in fact been suspended with pay, Rowley said the first response of the authorities was to make excuses for the doctor. He said the University of the West Indies came forward to say how qualified the doctor was and the Minister (of Health) offered explanations, rather than dealing with what happened.
“They have no difficulty dealing with the nurse (who put the foetus in the bag).” Rowley also asked whether the doctor who operated on a patient at a private facility and extracted cocaine from his stomach was dealt with in any way.
He said the population never even knew the name of this doctor.
He said nothing also happened to the patient in this case because the patient was well connected.
On the platform in Rio Claro, Rowley said the health system had collapsed, but this Government was only interested in negotiating contracts for the construction of hospitals. He said the Government only wanted to set up contracts, whether it be for health or other projects.
“They (the Government) identify the contractor, give them the contract, make a phone call to them, and tell them how much money they want for their election,” he said.
“It was the most boldfaced and corrupt government in the history of Trinidad and Tobago. Those (members) who lived in shacks now live in a palace at your expense. And the people who built the palace are billionaires.”
Rowley said there was a particular minister who in 2010 showed him his pay slip with his gratuity, which was a “paltry sum”.
“Today he has his own personal real estate agent in Canada, looking after his properties. And when he goes to Richmond Hill he rubs noses and shoulders with the property owners in Canada. So he moved from being a pettifogging minister to a multimillionaire property owner in Canada and properties in Florida.”
Rowley also asked the audience if they heard about a minister of government who was paying off a mortgage of $40-something thousand dollars a month to a Port of Spain bank.
“And paid down a $2 million in 18 months,” he said, adding that nothing happened about that.
Rowley said the PNM owed a bank a considerable sum of money that it borrowed to run an election.
“We must be the only party in the world that borrows money to run an election. This Government has money in the bed, under their mattress, in their car, waiting for the next election because they took it for the contractors.
“It is so bad now that some ministers are offering discounts (saying to contractors), ‘if yuh pay me X by Friday, it would be 15 per cent less (on the contract price) and if you don’t pay, it would be the full price on Monday’. That is what is going on. But we in the PNM will spend your money on your development,” Rowley stated.
The PNM leader also reiterated that a PNM government would implement a zero tolerance on violence in schools.
“We will have to have disciplinary centres so that children who are chronic misbehavers can be taken out of one school and put in a different kind of school.”
Noting that some persons accused him of saying that children would be taken out of schools and lose their education, Rowley said: “I am not saying that at all. I am saying that if your behaviour is disruptive on a chronic basis, and cannot be dealt with in the normal cut and thrust of the school yard, if it (the student’s behaviour) becomes criminal and detrimental, a decision has to be made by somebody to remove you (the student) from that kind of school to another kind of school...And that would benefit both kinds of students—those who are disruptive and those who are not.”