Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn is questioning the validity of the charge which the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has brought against one of its senior medical specialists.
Franklyn, who is also a trade union leader, is today claiming that the hospital’s allegation that consultant general surgeon Dr Maurice Walrond breached or was in violation of his contract when he spoke on a radio call-in programme without the expressed permission of the board, is not a listed offence.
“Speaking to the press without their permission is not one of the offences listed in the rules. That was left out,” the outspoken Opposition Senator told Barbados TODAY, noting that he has a copy of the rules.
It is understood that Dr Walrond, who could not be reached for comment, has retained the services of an attorney at law.
When contacted this afternoon, Executive Chairman of the QEH Juliet Bynoe-Sutherland would only tell Barbados TODAY “I do not comment on matters related to employees of the hospital.
“Dr Walrond continues to be a valued member of our team.”
His bargaining agent, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) met last night to discuss the kind of support and guidance it can provide Dr Walrond.
However, the acting BAMP President Dr Geoffrey Lafond today confirmed that BAMP would not comment on any decisions of the meeting at this stage.
Dr Walrond was notified of the charge against him in a letter dated May 18, 2020, and signed by Bynoe-Sutherland which said that disciplinary action is being contemplated and could include 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.
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 in on 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 in operating theatres at the QEH and claimed that the hospital’s leadership was not doing enough to keep the environment COVID-19 free.
The consultant general surgeon even suggested that patients who were COVID-19 positive but needed general surgery could find themselves at risk if transferred to the QEH for surgical procedures.
But the Executive Chairman told Walrond in her letter that his statements made without her 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.
Two days after calling the radio programme with his concerns, the doctor wrote BAMP outlining similar issues he and his fellow surgeons were experiencing with the operating theatres at the QEH. In his letter dated May 13, 2020, Walrond said a patient room has been retrofitted for the emergency surgical care of COVID-19 patients at the Enmore complex opposite the QEH.
“It is inadequate, unsafe for patient care, and places medical staff working in that facility at increased risk of infection,” his correspondence stated. He itemized what he termed a subset of deficiencies including that the facility was too small and did not meet certain International Health Facility guidelines. [email protected]