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Senior doctors have allegedly been issued a “gag order” by the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) board to prevent them from going public with their complaints, amid the ongoing controversy involving its CEO Davlin Thomas. This is the claim from former health minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who is calling on the Government to immediately launch an independent inquiry into the issue, suspend Thomas and fire the NCRHA board.

In a statement on Saturday on the ongoing controversy which arose after four senior doctors were rotated out of the Couva Hospital system, Gopeesingh said, “Representatives of a total of 17 senior doctors at the Couva Hospital and EWMSC, who met with the NCRHA Board on Thursday, were ordered to keep their mouths shut and say nothing about the dangerous mismanagement and problems that can endanger the lives of innocent patients.”

He also said Thomas’ “claims about a decrease in mortality rates at the Couva Hospital is nothing short of a blatant, obscene manipulation of statistics in a desperate attempt to save face. The Ministry of Health’s daily COVID-19 figures tell another story of these highly questionable deaths.”

“An analysis of the statistics shows that given the record- high numbers of COVID-19 cases which now threaten to overwhelm the parallel health care system, the various Regional Health Authorities have begun keeping their very ill patients in need of life-saving ventilatory support at the hospitals under their own purview. Therefore, patients are now being sent to the Augustus Long Hospital (SWRHA), Arima Hospital (ERHA) and the NWRHA medical tents in Port-of-Spain, instead of Couva Hospital, as before.”

Deeming the CEO’s statements “very libellous,” Gopeesingh said they cast “serious aspersions” on the doctors’ medical competence, which “will have the effect of causing further distrust and demotivating all medical workers. It will also seriously destabilise and jeopardise the parallel health care system and the public’s trust in it, at this crucial time when citizens are dying at an alarming rate.”

He said the NCRHA board should immediately resign or be dismissed forthwith by the Cabinet, since “no friends, relatives or liming partners of the political directorate must be allowed to endanger our public health care system to the point of its utter collapse.”