Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says it is time for a private investigator to probe the theft of the $.5 million ultrasound machine at the San Fernando General Hospital, saying it was not the first time expensive equipment had gone missing at public institutions.Although denying yesterday it might have been a doctor working at both the hospital and a private medical institution, he said several pieces of surgical equipment had made their way from public institutions into private nursing homes.
He said: "This is not the first time things have gone missing from what I understand."It is just that a big thing has gone this time. A lot of operating theatre equipment finds itself into private nursing homes. They are expensive but not as big and this is a big thing."What they will do with a machine like that. Whoever stole that machine, they will hide it somewhere until the heat dies down.
"Obviously it would have a serial number but you know like everything else, we have a system where people forget. We have to be vigilant whenever something new comes in."He added: "It might be time that the Regional Health Authority requests the services of what we call a private investigator so nobody will know who is coming to investigate. That kind of individual who is in civilian clothes and go can through the system and find out more."
Khan, a urologist, formerly of the St Augustine Private Hospital, declined to comment on whether the theft was linked to doctors being involved in private practice.He said: "I don't want to say that because then it would seem that I am targeting people. Right now I am saying that the security should have been more vigilant."If the security system broke down and was turned off, why? Who did it? The police and investigative people are all that we have to investigate, so I hope they do a good job."
He was referring to a claim by South West Regional Health Authority CEO Anil Gosine that the thieves shut down the alarm system at the hospital before making off with the machine.Blaming Innovative Security Technologies, the firm charged with manning the facility, Khan said they should be held accountable for thieves making off with such a large piece of equipment.
He said: "If someone could shut down the security system, they have to know where the security system is and they have to know how to shut it down."This is the only item we know about. There may be more items, then we have to hold them responsible. The security is supposed to man those systems."The SWRHA might have to fork out another $500,000 to replace the stolen machine if it is not recovered soon.