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Duke: Prepare for health crisis...

PUBLIC Services Association (PSA) president, Watson Duke, says this country should prepare for a health crisis if the Ministry of Health does not get its act together.

Speaking to the Express via telephone yesterday, Duke said Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has a fight on his hands if he refuses to meet their demands.

Referring to the "action" taken by employees at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) over the past six weeks, Duke said if people thought that was bad, "wait until we shut down the entire health sector".

"We are going to take the entire RHAs out of operation if (Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan) fails to respect workers and meet the demands. Mt Hope is just the beginning," he said during a telephone interview yesterday.

On Tuesday night, the PSA met with the North Central Regional Health Authority's (NCRHA) chief executive officer, Colin Bissessar and the Minister to discuss the details of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) developed by the PSA.

The MOU, which calls on the NCRHA to ensure safe working environments and proper ventilation among other things, was originally agreed upon verbally. However, the minster took it off the table saying that the PSA was "not a recognised union" and should not be making demands.

"Fuad should call himself fraud khan because he is not a genuine person, he says one thing and does another, is like he wants people to protest and get on bad so he could bring in his friends."

"As far as I am concerned, Fuad should be held accountable for there being no surgeries in the last six weeks, he should resign...he is not doing his work," Duke said.

Duke further accused the Health Minister of "playing with health" instead of "trying to improve the sector".

Referring to the state of healthcare at the Port of Spain General Hospital, he said:

"Just imagine, you have a hospital where sterilisation is not happening and where a drill was damaged but there wasn't another one to immediately replace it."

"Its time we have people who care about Trinidad and Tobago, see about Trinidad and Tobago, (Khan) is playing games with workers, playing games with the PSA, but we are not playing," he said.

Speaking to reporters following the launch of the Careers in Health Dictionary at the ministry's head office in Port of Spain yesterday, the Health Minister said, "The Industrial Relation Act, sections 67 and 68 indicate that the health sector is an essential service, so what the workers were doing was an illegal protest, and they carried it on for a month.

"The president of the PSA, they have certain workers in the NCRHA but they are not the recognised union, so if you are not a recognised union, you cannot have a Memorandum of Understanding with an employer as it is."

"So after checking with the legal people and looking at the definition of a Memorandum of Understanding and so on, we could not sign something like that, or else we will be setting up ourselves for later problems, however the chief executive officer has given a letter of intent for all the things they have asked for except one, which we have to look at," he said.

"I am not working around the industrial relations act, I am going to follow it to a tee because that's the law of the land," he said.

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