Deyalsingh: Medical staff must be heard on baby deaths

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh speaks in the Lower House, Parliament in Port of Spain. – Photo courtesy Office of the Parliament

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said on June 25 that medical staff must be given a right to be heard before the publicising of a report on the deaths of several newborn babies in April at Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH).

He was replying to a supplemental question posed as a follow-up to Opposition Senator Wade Mark’s urgent question asking when the Government intended to publicise the investigative report done by a visiting team from PAHO.

Replying to Mark’s urgent question, Deyalsingh related that PAHO on its website had said the report was submitted last Friday, June 21.

“We put out a release last Sunday (June 23) indicating that following standard procedure in matters like these, the report will be made public at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Mark said Deyalsingh had previous promised to release the report as soon as it was submitted to him. “Can the minister now indicate whether he is now going back on his commitment to the people of TT?”

Deyalsingh replied, “No such thing exists. What we did say was the report will be made public as soon as possible.

“The common-law precedents of procedural fairness, reasonableness, equity, and justice demand that clinical staff and administrative staff have a right to be heard and a right to respond to any findings in that report.

“To do otherwise will be to jeopardise whatever matters may flow from that report. In any report of this nature, people have a right to be heard and a right to respond, and that is going on now as we speak, as I indicated in my press release of Sunday, June 23.”

The North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) in a statement on April 11 said babies died from bacterial infections during an outbreak in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) from April 4-7, and the next day Deyalsingh told Parliament seven babies had died.

Since then, parents of 19 dead babies have come together in a class action against the NWRHA alleging negligence, with some deaths before and some after the stated April period. They are represented by Freedom Law Chambers.