ANCILLARY staff at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) will be retuning to work today.
This is after more then two weeks of sick-out action following their "frustration" at management's failure to improve their working conditions and their refusal to accept any public/private partnership arrangement at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA).
One source says it is being done out of "good faith" pending further discussions with management, while another says it's because "workers are just not supporting the call" to stay away.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke said: "I have advised the workers to go to work tomorrow even though the conditions there resemble a white sepulchre, outside looking all white and clean and inside is rotten."
Over the past two weeks, patients at the hospital experienced delays in services because of the protest undertaken by workers, who were incensed by management's failure to improve the staff's working conditions as well as update their National Insurance contributions.
When the Express visited the hospital last week, out-patients were being seen but by on the job trainees (OJTs) who worked as customer service representatives and were simply rescheduling appointments.
Elective surgeries had to be cancelled because departments such as radiology, medical records and sterilisation refused to work.
Duke added, however, that while the PSA has been unsuccessful in arranging a meeting with Health Minster Dr Fuad Khan, it did not mean they were going to stop fighting.
"We are going to keep up this action, albeit in a different way because these workers deserve better conditions, they deserve to have clean air vents and proper tools," he said.
Questioned on the NCRHA's intention to establish a Public Private Partnership at the facility, Duke insisted it was heading in the wrong direction.
"Despite what the Minister is saying, we have looked around and found no ideal health service provider.
"None of the private facilities offer exceptional health care because if something serious occurs, they sometimes have to resort to public system.
"What needs to change is the management and how they manage these workers," he said.
Referring to the time when Khan had to give up his private medical practice, after being given an ultimatum by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to choose between it and his ministerial position, Duke said "that is where the solution lies".
"We have a lot of dilution of officers' commitment, from doctors go right back, who all feel there are better services where places are private, but meet the same thing.
"But what these people need to do is stop trying to make money out of health care and actually care about the people they treat," he said.
Duke added that "those who sit at the helm are trying to turn it around and make the workers look bad, but the problem is not the workers".
He said the Ministry of Health should put laws in place to stop workers from working in a private practice, but also make sure those who choose public, are properly compensated.
In other health news, the Express understands that the cranial drill, allegedly sabotaged by doctors at Port of Spain General Hospital five months ago after it was submerged in water, has gone missing.
The drill was sent to be repaired at the biomed department at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.
However, sources at the facility say the drill could not be found yesterday, possibly squashing any further investigation into the matter.
Attempts to contact the Health Minister and NCRHA CEO Colin Bissessar about the matter proved futile.