I wish to express my deepest condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of parliamentary procedural clerk assistant Sheranne Samuel on her untimely passing.

As vice chairman of the PAAC in the last Parliament I had the pleasure of working with Sheranne on numerous occasions.

She was humble but efficient, quiet but effective, dedicated and diligent, truly a gem of a person. She will be missed by all who knew her.

Whilst her death was tragic, the circumstances surrounding the delay in making a diagnosis because of non-functioning CT scanners at both the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and the Eric Williams Medical Complex speak volumes of the challenges that our healthcare professionals face in the health sector.

Whilst the Minister of Health would have us believe that COVID-19 is responsible for all the current ills in the health sector, the fact is that the delivery arms of the health service, the regional health authorities have been unable to fulfill their mandate under this Government because of poor management and lack of accountability.

Although symptoms and clinical signs still comprise the foundation of diagnosis in patients with neurological conditions, it is accepted best practice that an early CT scan better guides the medical team in providing the most appropriate and timely treatment.

Having to wait 14 hours for a CT scan in the circumstances reported in the newspaper is in my view unacceptable. Machines will break down but systems must never break down.

Under the People’s Partnership Government, the external patient programme was developed to provide a contingency for such cases to be outsourced in a timely intervention in exactly such circumstances.

The question is why was this avenue not utilised earlier? The minister’s attempt to blame this on COVID-19 is a poor excuse and an attempt to hide mismanagement and incompetence.

This has to do with systems that have collapsed under the watch of the PNM Government despite at least $20 billion being allocated to the health sector between 2016 and 2019.

In 2020 surely our citizens deserve better.

Sanitise, physical distance and wear your masks.

Dr Lackram P Bodoe