Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 February 2016, 14:59 by Denis Chabrol
Health Minister, Dr. George Norton says he is “disappointed” that the newly-appointed Chairman of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr. Noel Blackman has been arrested and charged with illegally issuing prescriptions for a powerful painkiller in New York.
Norton said already steps are being taken to replace Blackman as Chairman of the GPHC’s Board. Sources said Dr. Max Hanoman, a former People’s National Congress (PNC) parliamentarian is being considered.
A Guyana-bound plane that was taxiing Sunday when federal authorities ordered it to return and Blackman,68, was arrested at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. Authorities said the former Health Minister, who was relocating permanently to Guyana, also had US$30,000 in his suitcase.
Reacting to the news that the well-respected surgeon and was nabbed, the Health Minister said “I am disappointed.” Asked whether he was worried that the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) might use Blackman’s arrest as a political football, the Health Minister said he was confident that government would be able to withstand any criticism. “I think the government is strong enough to withstand that, if that happens to be the truth,” he said.
The Health Minister noted that although Dr. Blackman has been charged, he has not been proven guilty.
Blackman of Far Rockaway was arraigned Monday in Central Islip on a charge of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
Records show he wrote 114 prescriptions in 2014 for about 3,800 oxycodone pills and nearly 2,500 prescriptions for about 365,000 pills last year.
His attorney declined to comment.
Blackman, a major partner in HBTV Channel Nine, served as Health Minister under the then People’s National Congress-led administration of then President Desmond Hoyte.