Senators today rubberstamped changes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Act in a move to overhaul its management structure but not without further suggested changes from both independent and opposition colleagues.
As Leader of Government Business in the Senate Senator Jerome Walcott read out the bill’s clauses, independent Senator Monique Taitt urged him to take a closer look at some of its provisions for the sake of precision and clarity.
Giving an example, she said: “As the bill is written out, it speaks to the appointment of directors, but assigns no numerical value for the chief operations officer or the executive directors in the different segments.
“In my view, the people who draft these bills should be more careful as they go about their tasks, and ideally these amendments should not be passed unless we look at the original act as a guideline.”
Walcott agreed with some of the changes she suggested, but Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn said Government should examine the way in which it appoints people to executive positions in state-run agencies, noting that “political appointees” often create problems.
Senator Franklyn declared: “Political people should go when the Minister does, otherwise we will have a situation where an incoming administration will have to deal with the ‘hangers-on’ who will try to hamstring their efforts.
“All I want is for the Government to behave honourably, and Clause 4 should be amended to say this person should demit office when the Government does.
“If not, the new government can be charged with unfair dismissal and have to compensate them if they remove the political appointee from office.”
A clarification was also made relating to the roles of the board of directors and the line Minister with regard to appointing and approving the appointment of senior people to the QEH, along the lines of the changes made to the act governing the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
Earlier in the debate, Government Senators Lucille Moe and Romell Springer spoke about some of the issues the hospital had faced recently. They expressed the hope that the bill before the Chamber would restore the QEH as “the jewel of health care in the Caribbean”.