A senior medical specialist employed by the state-owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has been charged by his employer with breaching the terms and conditions of his contract.
And in a letter to consultant general surgeon Dr Maurice Kiseka Walrond dated May 18, 2020, QEH Executive Chairman Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland informed him that disciplinary action is being contemplated including possible dismissal.
“The offence for which you have been charged at paragraph 1 of this letter is a major offence. If the charge against you is upheld, it may result in disciplinary action against you as provided at rule 5.2.1 of the Terms and Conditions, up to, and including dismissal as provided by rule 5.2.28 of the Terms and Conditions,” Bynoe-Sutherland wrote in her correspondence to Walrond, a copy of which is in the possession of Barbados TODAY.
The hospital is accusing the doctor of speaking to the press without the expressed permission of the board as stipulated in the employees’ contracts when on two occasions last week, he called into StarCom Network’s Down To Brass Tacks and made remarks which “have brought, or are likely to bring the QEHB [Queen Elizabeth Hospital Board] into disrepute.”
Speaking on behalf of a group of fellow surgeons, Walrond called the programme and lamented the inadequacies within operating theatres at the QEH.
He also called for the hospital’s leadership to do more to keep the environment COVID-19 free.
The consultant general surgeon went so far as to suggest that patients who were COVID-19 positive but needed general surgery could find themselves at risk if transferred to the QEH for surgical procedures.
He told listeners to the call-in radio programme that 11 colleagues from the Department of Surgery had put their signatures to a letter sent to Government itemizing their concerns.
But the Executive Chairman told Walrond in her letter that his statements made without her expressed permission, were in breach or violation of rule 4.9.1 of the Code of Conduct set out in the Terms and Conditions of Service for Employees of the QEH.
Bynoe-Sutherland also informed him that an enquiry would be launched into the alleged offence or misconduct and he was told of various rights which are available to him.
The rights outlined by the hospital boss include being served with the nature of the charge in writing; the right to reply and to be heard before any disciplinary action is taken.
Walrond was also informed that he had the right to be represented or assisted at any such hearing by a trade union representative, attorney-at-law or a friend of his choice.
The consultant general surgeon has reached out to his bargaining body, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) for support in his cause.
Acting President of BAMP Dr Geoffrey Lafond told Barbados TODAY the association’s council would be meeting in emergency session this evening to deal with the matter and decide on the course of action to be taken.
Lafond said it would not be proper to tell the media what decisions had been taken at this meeting when it is completed before first informing the hospital and allowing due process to take place bearing in mind that an enquiry is to be conducted.
“The council will be meeting in an emergency meeting this evening to discuss the matter and to possibly guide and assist Dr Walrond with his present matter. What I can tell you is that the concerns aired by Dr Walrond are valid concerns. BAMP fully supports his concerns since they relate to healthcare workers at risk as well as it refers to not being able to provide adequate service to the public with regards to the provisions being made,” the acting BAMP head said.
He added, he had therefore reached out to the Executive Chair and the Director of Medical Services Dr Clyde Cave “for which assurances have been made that everything possible would be done to keep the general public at large safe and not compromise the health of healthcare workers due to this COVID-19 virus.”
However, acting BAMP President argued that even if Walrond had not expressed his concerns in the prescribed way, the issues he raised remained valid and are for a cause.
“The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has rules and regulations which most of the unions inclusive of BAMP would have signed on to. Dr Walrond is an employee of the hospital and he would have had to be guided by the rules and regulations of the hospital,” he stated.
“But this in mind, we are in a different era with this virus, which threatens not just patients but especially healthcare workers; and Dr Walrond’s concern was really in keeping with his fear and the fear of his fellow workers who see the risk they have been put at in trying to give adequate care to the public,” Lafond, an obstetrician/gynaecologist told Barbados TODAY.
“So it is more than just breaching rules and regulations, but it is for what cause; and we are more concerned as regards to the cause and we aim at all times for our constituents to always follow the rules and regulations of their respective workplaces,” he declared.
The acting BAMP leader went on to describe the “cause” for which Walrond is fighting as extraordinary.
“It is an extraordinary circumstance which Dr Walrond took upon himself to voice and unfortunately he did that in the public domain. But we do understand his concerns and we do understand the well-meaning intent to keep all Barbadians safe,” Lafond emphasized. Minister of Health and Wellness Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic could not be reached for comment up to late this afternoon.
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