Opposition Leader on babies dying at hospital: Fire ‘minister of death’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar – File photo

THE Opposition Leader has referred to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh as “the minister of death” and called for him and other health officials to be fired.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s comments came after the deaths of at least 11 premature babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH).

She referred to the deaths as one of the most horrendous issues to plague the nation’s public health care system in recent history.

She also called for the immediate firing of the entire board, CEO and chief medical officer of the PoSGH.

“Why? Because they sat down and knew babies were dying at a higher rate than usual and did absolutely nothing to prevent the other seven or eight babies dying from infection.

“That is an unpardonable sin and points to serious, possibly criminal negligence,” Persad-Bissessar alleged.

The UNC leader spoke at a press briefing on April 19 at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port of Spain.

She said over the past eight years, Dr Keith Rowley’s regime had had a “disastrous reign” in looking after health care in the country.

Persad-Bissessar said people had been entering hospitals as patients and coming out as corpses because of what she referred to as the grossly improper and inadequate health care they received.

“Many families have had to suffer the immense pain of losing their loved ones in the very place that is supposed to cure them. That it is not only heart-breaking but, frankly, inhumane.

“Every year their budgets are consistently filled with failed and rehashed promises of yesteryear, no tangible measures to improve the quality of healthcare.”

Eleven babies have reportedly fallen ill with bacterial infections while in the NICU and subsequently died.

Investigations have been launched, and so far, the head of the NWRHA’s infection prevention control unit, Darrel Jones, has been suspended.

Persad-Bissessar called for counselling and financial compensation for families in the short term.

“The depression and suffering of these parents derail these parents’ lives and destroy families. Today, I am calling on the Minister of Health to immediately provide free and professional psychological counselling for these affected parents. They need counselling,” she said.

“They must provide immediate monetary compensation for any work lost, or losses that these traumatised families suffered in the immediate or the short term. It is the least the Government can do for them at this time.”

Newsday contacted Deyalsingh, who responded, “I can confirm that free private counselling has been offered to all the bereaved families. I will not be politicising this sad event as the Leader of the Opposition is.

“Please remember when we had our first covid death, it was the same leader of the opposition who broke the news before the families had time to process the news.”

Former Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe and Senator Jearlean John also attended the briefing.