SWRHA head: No $$ wasted on legal fees

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

SWRHA CEO Brian Armour with other officials during a press conference at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital on April 27. – Rishard Khan

SOUTH West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) CEO Dr Brian Armour has denied claims by TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) head Idi Stuart that the authority has been wasting money on contracting large law firms to tackle matters that could be handled in-house.

The exchange between the organisation heads came during a public meeting of the SWRHA board on June 27 at the City Hall Auditorium, San Fernando.

During the plenary session, when members of the public were allowed to put questions to the board, Stuart said, based on a recent issue with the union, he noticed the authority using law firms to tackle matters that could easily be handled by its human resources or industrial relations departments.

“What is the rationale for this? This has never been done in (the) South West (RHA) before and it’s not currently done in any other RHA.

“In response, Armour denied an over-reliance on external legal firms, saying 70 per cent of matters are handled by the hospital’s staff.

Furthermore, he said there are strict protocols in place that dictate when external legal support is needed.

“Our governance structure starts with the board, through which there is a legal committee, and you have a legal department. The board actually created an internal policy that puts a litmus test as to the decision to be made as to whether internal or external (lawyers are used) with respect to matters that are varying in nature – not only clinical but also corporate.

“In addition, he said the Ministry of Health also needs to be engaged and may decide to engage the office of the Attorney General.

“Our view is that there is no wastage and there is prudence in selection as well as retention of persons.”