Last Updated on Thursday, 18 March 2021, 14:41 by Denis Chabrol
The Health Ministry is cautious about whimsically removing the Chief Executive Officer of the Linden Hospital Complex, Rudy Small although he has admitted to making disparaging remarks about nurses there, Ministerial Advisor Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said Thursday.
“Whenever there is a complaint, we have to discuss it. We can’t just send staff (off) because then where do we stop. Tomorrow, another complaint about another staff he must go home and another one and another one and another one. That’s not how it works and, therefore, we have taken our position and we are waiting for the union to engage us,” he said.
The GPSU has refused to hold negotiations with the Ministry of Health unless Mr. Small is removed from office.
Asked whether the Health Ministry was unwilling to let go of Mr. Small, Dr. Ramsammy said the Health Ministry remained ready to meet at any time to address the nurses’ concerns “but we don’t want to do so under duress.” He noted that already the Health Ministry has formally recorded its concerns to Mr. Small and has warned him against any future infractions. “The Ministry has rebuked him and entered it into his record that such behaviour will not be tolerated but whenever there is a complaint, you have to discuss it,” he added.
Contrary to claims by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) that the nurses were not on strike but were merely blocking Mr. Small from entering the hospital, Dr. Ramsammy said the Health Ministry considered the workers to be off the job based on available figures. “Well, if they are not at work, they’ll be on strike so what we have is situation of a number of nurses, sometimes as many as 30, 40 percent of the nurses are off-duty,” he said. “If you are not on duty when you are assigned, then you must be on strike,”
The Advisor to the Health Ministry noted that on Wednesday 40 nurses were on duty and there were 25 in-patients “so we are able to carry on normal functions but the nurses should be on duty.”
He added that the Health Ministry was following legal advice about the status of Mr. Small who has apologised unconditionally for the derogatory remarks he made about the nurses especially those working the night shift.
The former Health Minister at the same time said patient care and treatment at the Linden Hospital Complex have not been severely affected by the industrial unrest. “So far, the services continue. The number of nurses on duty are able to carry on normal functioning at the hospital, but in spite of that I hope that we can end the impasse and proceed to strengthen the service at the hospital,” he said.
The impasse is now two weeks old.