UNC wants external investigation into babies’ deaths, calls for Deyalsingh to resign

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fyzabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe. –

THE UNC says while it understands an internal investigation into the recent deaths of seven babies at the Port of Spain General Hospital is needed, there must also be an independent, external investigation.

The babies died between April 4 and 7 owing to bacterial infection at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Their parents have since begun legal action against the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA), alleging medical negligence.

An investigation has since been launched under the supervision of Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

Speaking at a press conference on April 14, UNC MP Dr Lackram Bodoe said the news pained him, especially as a doctor with 40 years of experience and a practising obstetrician/gynaecologist.

He said this country’s health sector is facing a crisis.

“The population was awakened to the worrisome and totally heart-wrenching headlines on Friday morning…

“I want to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved parents of these seven babies.”

He said he once worked at the NICU for a year and three months, so he “knows about procedures and protocols when it comes to dealing with sick, premature, vulnerable babies…

“And I suspect, and I believe the population also suspects, that better could have been done for these babies…”

He wondered what practices and protocols were breached and whether the staffing there is adequate.

On accountability, he said he called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to “immediately come before the public, the parents, the staff of the health sector, and to inform us truthfully of what he knows and when did he know it…These reports came out several days after the incidents happened.”

Bodoe said the investigation must be done in a timely manner, and the report must outline steps to prevent recurrence and to restore faith and trust in the population.

“It must not be a cover-up.”

He continued, “This latest saga…is another sign of a collapsed health sector under this government.”

Opposition Senator Wade Mark called for an “independent, unbiased and impartial investigation,” adding that Deyalsingh should step down as health minister.

“The blood of these innocent children is on the hands of the government,” Mark said.

If Deyalsingh does not resign, Mark said, the Prime Minister should replace him.

Bodoe also suggested Deyalsingh resign.

Mark said, “The minister must take personal responsibility for policy failure.”