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British backlash over death

by Emmanuel Joseph
4 min read
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Dr Alfred Sparman

The United Kingdom Government has announced that it will be complaining to the Mia Mottley Administration for local heart specialist Dr Alfred Sparman, following the recent death of a British citizen at his privately-run clinic here.

The issue was debated in the British Parliament last Thursday after being introduced by Member of Parliament Alec Shelbrooke whose father-in-law Gordon Spencer died at the Sparman Clinic on February 13 this year, 26 days after his arrival for treatment.

Under-Secretary for Transport, Minister Nusrat Ghani said the matter would be taken up by her Government and relayed to the Barbadian authorities.

Minister Ghani was responding to Member of Parliament Colonel Bob Stewart who intervened during her speech and stated: How can we actually allow this man to be continuing to do his work in Barbados? What can the British Government do to stop it? Are we going to report the man to the Barbadian Government? And are we actually going to complain about the way the port agent dealt with this case? Because actually, that’s something that I believe is very practical and might stop another family going through the hell that the Shelbrooke family have been through.”

The Minister assured the MP that the since the matter was raised on the floor of Parliament it would be reflected in all the government agencies “and I do not doubt for one moment that this message would be reaching Barbados, especially once the meeting takes place with the IMO (International  Maritime Organisation) as well.”

She pledged to immediately lobby the IMO to change the law to ensure that passengers are sent to a “fit and proper” facility and that cruise ships carry out their duty of care to make sure such action is taken on behalf of their patients.

Due to possible future legal issues, Barbados TODAY is constrained from going into the details of the circumstances surrounding the death at the Sparman Clinic.

However, MP Shelbrooke informed the British Parliament that his father-in-law became ill with a chest infection and cough while on a cruise with his wife Jackie.

“Jackie took Gordon to the ship’s doctor who diagnosed double pneumonia and high blood pressure and started treatment through antibiotics. The doctor also performed…tests and categorically confirmed that Gordon did not have a heart attack,” he told the parliamentary debate which was streamed on Facebook.

Shelbrooke also quoted the ship’s doctor as saying that Gordon “was improving at the point of medical disembarkation.”

The parliamentarian also criticized the port agent in Barbados for referring the patient to a private clinic when the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was the preferred primary acute care public medical facility for visitors based on a 2013 report which he quoted entitled: Caring for non-residents in Barbados, authored by the Medical Tourism Research Group.

“Within the Caribbean, Barbados is regarded as a favourite destination for regional patients, particularly for those smaller islands lacking advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities and a capacity to offer to treat high-risk patients,” the MP cited the report as saying.

“It goes on to say the Queen Elizabeth Hospital serves as the main referral hospital for the entire Eastern Caribbean. Consultants at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have the ability to admit private patients, such as ill vacationers not covered by the island’s public health system.”

He added: “Therefore Mr Deputy Speaker, on Friday the 18 January, with a major hospital available just two miles away from the port with an 86-year-old man with double pneumonia, who according to the ship’s doctor, was improving at the point of medical disembarkation, the port agent in Bridgetown decided to send Gordon to the privately-run Sparman Clinic some three miles away from the port which is owned and operated by Dr Alfred Sparman.”

When contacted late tonight, Dr Sparman promised to get back to Barbados TODAY with a comment but up to the time of publication there had been no response.
emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

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