I think I’ve had a relapse! I’ve been reading more news on the Rock of late. This one Health CEO Fired [TT Express 2013-12-09] could not escape my attention. My reference to ‘reported facts’ does not mean that I believe them. However, the TT Express has been doing a very good job of investigative journalism in the last year – and therefore the reported facts hold some degree of credibility. Newsday has also reported on this. I’ll summarise what happened according to reported facts for ease of understanding.
- Ameena Ali was appointed CEO of the Eastern Regional Health Authority on 1st November 2013.
- According to media reports, there were 14 complaints made against Ali – 12 of those from “senior medical staff”. Of those 12, two were said to be doctors, some nurses and others pharmacist. Letters of resignation were received. [Amusingly the word ‘medical’ no longer refers exclusively to medical doctors – anybody can be a medic these days – just like in England.]
- ERHA board member, attorney Kiel Taklalsingh, stated that complaints were about the CEO’s lack of interpersonal skills, which effectively prompted the letters of resignation. Taklalsingh reasoned that if such mass resignations were to take place, then the ability of the ERHA to deliver it’s services would have been adversely affected, causing damage to patient care.
- Chairman of the Board, Dr Stephen Bhagan reportedly said that because Ali was on probation she would be served a letter of termination.
Some relevant background:
- A High Court judge tongue-lashed the North West Regional Health Authority for improperly dismissing Ali in 2003. As reported in Newsday 2004-12-21, “Ventour [Judge] stated on page 33 of his judgment that he was taken aback by the manner in which Ali was terminated. The letter was tantamount to a summary dismissal “without highlighting any serious breach of contract on the part of the applicant (Ali.)” Stating that the termination letter failed to consider Ali’s interest, Ventour wrote, “I am left with no alternative but to hold that the decision of the board to terminate the services of the applicant was, in all the circumstances, unjust, unfair, unreasonable and unlawful.”
- It was certainly the case that Ali was a General Manager at NWRHA in October 2013 – just in case anyone wondered how 14 people reacted like a raised jep nest, so quickly from 1st November to 9th December 2013.
- Dr Stephen Bhagan is the the Minister’s brother-in-law.
- Carol Bhagan is the Minister’s wife, over whom there was recently a major uproar about her appointment as a director of health with the NWRHA.
Ali asserted that (and I paraphrase) that she had uncovered concerns arising from an audit, and a situation where doctors were being paid around $25,000 TT/month for one day’s work per week. Personally, I don’t know why that should cause such a fuss, because that level of pay is roughly the Sterling equivalent for a locum consultant doctor here in the UK.
Well, I don’t intend to take sides this early. However, a few inferences seem appropriate:
- People did not like Ameena Ali back in 2003.
- They reacted like a jep nest within a space of one month of her taking the reigns.
- Workers seemed coordinated in their strategy to force the ERHA to sack Ali.
- They effected that strategy.
- The ERHA’s grounds for dismissal appears to be that Ali has caused trouble and could not get on whilst in her probationary period.
- There is no account of a full and fair investigation of the complaints for substance or merit, available or accessible by the public. And it would seem that even the Minister is in the dark.
- The Minister has referred to a possible lawsuit, and that seems connected to expectation that Ali is not going to be a pushover – as she demonstrated very well in 2004.
- The Minister is probably concerned to avoid history repeating itself.
Just to be clear – I do not know Ali personally or professionally. I have no association with, or affiliation to, any of the persons mentioned – or their friends or relatives.