An attorney-at-law has been hired by Government to examine the contract of chief executive officer (CEO) of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Dexter James.
According to reports, James’ contract was renewed just days before the May 24, 2018 general elections, although it was not due for renewal for another 18 months. His contract, which included an annual salary of $257 129.64 and a vehicle, was renewed for a further four years.
The hospital’s chairman Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland told the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament today that James’ contract had been highly scrutinized by the board. She said it had engaged the services of a lawyer to examine its validity.
Her disclosures followed a call from Opposition Leader Reverend Joseph Atherley for the details surrounding James’ contract extension to be “publicly ventilated”.
“Specifically, in relation to the contract of the CEO, it is my understanding that this contract has been the subject of scrutiny by the officials within the border of legal framework of the Government of Barbados, and we ourselves have looked at it seeking to establish the validity of it,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
“As we speak, we have engaged a local attorney to support us in the process of looking carefully at this contract, and until such time when he renders his recommendations to us we are really awaiting his findings.”
Additionally, it was revealed that a lawyer in the United States has been hired to investigate BioMed, the company contracted by the QEH to deliver goods and services. The company is said to have charged the hospital excessively.
“We have taken steps as part of our audit process . . . and, in consultation with the Consul General in Miami, have identified a US-based attorney-at-law that we are intending to engage to look behind the corporate veil of these companies and identify more about who the directors are…” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
When questioned, James said that while he was familiar with the company, he was in no way affiliated with it.
Bynoe-Sutherland said the QEH board was also examining contracts which had been awarded by the hospital.
“. . . What we found as a board is that there was a clear flouting of many procurement guidelines of the hospital . . . .The issue of contracts at the hospital has been an issue that we have been attempting to grapple with, first by establishing what contracts we have. We found that the hospital did not have a functional contracts register, so one of the first questions we sought to understand as a board is who has what contract and what are the terms and conditions of the contracts,” she explained.
“We recognized right away that the basic accounting function and legal function did not exist. The whole contracting practice and processes of the hospital had been deeply problematic and we’ve had to address that . . . . We are in the process of creating a contracts register where we can do better contract management.”