HEALTH AUTHORITY REVIVES PERFORMANCE REVIEW CM Wants Caribbean Workers Retained

The original article can be found in: The Anguillan

Chief Minister Hubert Hughes has had his first official meeting with personnel in the Health Authority of Anguilla since becoming Minister of Health after firing Mr Edison Baird.

That meeting was held at La Vue Conference Centre on July 25. On that occasion Mr Hughes gave his candid views about the employment of Caribbean nurses and other workers in Anguilla’s health system, saying that at the expiration of their contracts they should not have to reapply for their jobs.

The normal policy procedure in Anguilla is that, after working on contract for some years, the positions held by non-belongers in the local job market are advertised in case there are suitably qualified Anguillians available to fill them. But Chief Minister Hughes is of the view that the services of Caribbean workers should be retained, citing his responsibility to honour agreements on labour matters, freedom of movement and unity within the OECS and CARICOM.
“Because of my special responsibility to the Caribbean Community, I personally cannot sit in Anguilla and treat Caribbean workers as they are strangers,” he told the Health Authority personnel. “If a Caribbean worker is employed in Anguilla, I cannot discriminate against that person. I cannot deal with them on the basis that they are not Anguillians.

“I do not agree that people, who are employed in the Health Authority of Anguilla for the last six or seven years, have to reapply for their jobs today. I do not agree…and I consider them my brothers…As long as we are Anguillians, each of us has an obligation to Anguilla, but my position is that I have to answer to the Caribbean and international organisations on fundamental rights. While it is true that we have policies and laws dealing with belongership, it is also true that we are talking about Caribbean unity.”

The Chief Minister, who is also the Minister of Labour and Immigration, continued: “When I see another Caribbean brother walking down the street, I do not know whether he is from St Kitts, Montserrat, Dominica, St Lucia or Anguilla. I, Hubert Hughes, who is Labour Minister, unfortunately will not subscribe to the idea that because a Caribbean person is employed in our systems that [the person] should be treated as a non-belonger. Some people have been working in the system for five or six years, going into seven years, and have expectations or obligations because they thought they were employed. I want it to be known that internationally it is not accepted that workers should be in a country for five, six, seven years, and have no rights and privileges.”

Earlier, Mr Hughes took the opportunity to caution the Health Authority that, like other statutory bodies, to take care of the people’s money and strive for efficiency. He stressed that this was particularly required in circumstances where, as with the Health Authority, the Government was contributing a subsidy towards its operations.

“We cannot survive at this rate. Anguilla will collapse at this rate,” he cautioned. “This island is in a serious dilemma of collapsing. I would know because I am in a position to know. We have commitments that we cannot carry and anyone who does not believe that will feel it. Anguilla cannot afford the type of financial commitments we have at this present time, and it is incumbent on Government to ensure that statutory bodies are adequately financed.” He added that where possible statutory bodies were required to generate their own financing.

After more than an hour of listening to the Chief Minister’s address, the Health Authority personnel were in a position to get on with their performance review which was not done for some time now.
Mrs MeridithGumbs, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Health Authority, in delivering her report for the period January-June 2013, said in part: “Today’s event is critical as it not only informs you of the progress and constraints, but serves to keep us accountable for the time and resources with which we are entrusted.

“We are all aware that the services provided by this organisation are critical to the health of this nation and, consequently, more attention has to be paid to the meaningful financing, management and development of the Health Authority. We are all aware that to be productive individuals we must be healthy – and therefore it is incumbent on all of us to manage this organisation so that it functions at a standard that will, to a large extent, ensure the provision of care for our workers, children, senior citizens and visitors.
“Cognisant of the difficult economic times, the organisation has had to make several adjustments to function within the confines of a limited budget and reduced revenues. However, despite being faced with these situations, our staff must be commended for their efforts, dedication and commitment especially when they often go beyond the call of duty to ensure that the health and lives of our clients are given priority.”

Mrs Gumbs was quick to point out, however, that they were not to become lackadaisical in their work. “This does not mean that we must be excused for the times when it appears that we could do more,” she stressed. “In every job there is always room for improvement and it is incumbent on us to always strive for excellence. I am also aware of the fact that limited resources have had a negative effect on training – in particular short term training. Such training would ensure, to a great extent, that we are able to inculcate new skills and knowledge which are critical to taking the standard of service we provide to a higher level.”

Deputy Chairperson of the Health Authority Board, Dr O Linda Banks, spoke briefly on the need for the organisation to continue to deliver quality health services to the people of Anguilla. She commended the staff on being in a position to hold the performance reviewfrom which it was hoped thatmuch benefit would be derived.

The review included presentations and discussions on such broad areas as corporate administration; patient care services and diagnostic and therapeutic services.

 

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