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The T&T Medical Board’s weekly meeting next Wednesday will discuss the issue of a southern doctor who allegedly severely verbally abused his female employee and was recorded doing so.

The decision by the board—which regulates and disciplines doctors—came last night following shock, outrage and disgust by citizens, Government and at least one other medical body after revelation of the recordings.

Government yesterday called on medical bodies to probe the situation.

The audio recordings which emerged revealed the person allegedly verbally abusing the employee, including using racist language and disparaging a protective services member. The employee was also severely abused by an alleged female relative of the woman’s employer.

The doctor in question referred queries to his attorney yesterday.

The T&T Guardian was told yesterday that the employee sought assistance from one medical body over the alleged attacks but nothing came of that. She has since left the workplace.

Apart from fiery social media condemnation, the People’s Nationaal Movement’s Women’s League was first in calling for a probe.

The League stated, “The alleged recording raises issues of abuse of powers, verbal abuse, the use of obscene language, racist attacks and threats of dismissal to a member of staff. The audio further refers disparagingly to a member of the protective services.

“It has shocked us all. We trust the matter will be swiftly handled by the relevant authorities. If this alleged physician is an employee within the public health sector, we insist the appropriate action be taken against him after investigation.”

It added, “The League denounces the abuse against women, whether the workplace or otherwise and stands in complete opposition to any person in authority who would use their office as an excuse to spew vulgar divisive words and threaten the employment of a worker. We condemn the unsubstantiated character assassination of our protective services …(and) For a person to boast of being superior by the measure of their wealth or education shows absolute moral bankruptcy.

“The level of abuse hurled at this female employee again echoes the critical concern of abuse against women and we continue to cry out against such action. Unfortunately, this misuse of authority is too common in the workplace and left unaddressed it will become a cancer in the cultural fabric of our work environments.”

Contacted yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the doctor involved doesn’t work with Government. He said he’d asked the Attorney General to write the T&T Medical Association and Medical Board of T&T (MBTT) and council seeking urgent investigation of the matter and to take any necessary action that emerges from the probe.

“They’ll receive my letters as soon as possible. It’ll be interesting to hear comments,” Deyalsingh added.

The TTMA is an association of mentorship and advocacy and is said to be responsible for upholding members’ ethical standards. The MBTT, meanwhile, is the regulatory/disciplinary body for the fraternity. Its council registers and disciplines members.

Queries to the MBTT yesterday included whether it would undertake the probe. MBTT secretary Prof Hariharan Seetharaman gave a response with the name of the southern doctor allegedly at the heart of the issue at the top.

Seetharaman stated, “Please be advised that the circumstances involving the above captioned medical practitioner will be addressed at the regular monthly meeting of Council to be held on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, following which an official response will be communicated to yourself.”

Medical body endorses probe

TTMA officials yesterday told the T&T Guardian that the body isn’t a disciplinary one but a professional association and investigation, adding that probing and disciplinary action of medical practitioners were under the aegis of the MBTT.

The TTMA issued the following statement on the recordings, “An unfortunate event has been brought to (TTMA’s) attention regarding the alleged use of discriminatory language by a member of the fraternity. We wish to, in the strongest manner possible, condemn all forms of discrimination. We endorse any relevant investigations that are required to resolve this matter expediently.

“As a profession, we’re driven by the code of our oath and bound by the duty entrusted to us by the patients that we serve. As such, we urge all healthcare providers to continue providing the expected standard of care to all patients regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, orientation and any other basis. We also encourage due respect for colleagues, staff members and citizens.”

Also contacted yesterday, Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie said he’d heard about the recordings.

“Everyone should be treated with human decency. We’d have to condemn such behaviour from anyone in any place – but you can’t legislate decency,” Mc Clashie said.

“These kinds of situations may be more widespread than we’d want to think. There are mechanisms to handle these kinds of behaviour, but people may feel intimidated. Only 30 per cent of the workforce is unionised but we have upgraded labour legislation coming ahead – including for situations like this.”