CEO of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) Davlin Thomas owes this country an explanation. If he cannot provide credible data to back his claim that his decision to appoint a new team of doctors at the Couva Facility led to a 60 per cent decrease in deaths and increased discharges by 25 per cent in the last eight days, he should do the honourable thing and step down.
It is an astounding claim to make without any data to back it up. What is worse is that by his very assertion Mr Thomas has brought into disrepute doctors who had been serving diligently and dutifully since the pandemic started at the Couva Hospital, the first facility brought into use as a COVID-19 hospital.
Initially when the doctors were moved Thomas claimed they were suffering from burnout and a rotation system was being introduced.
His tune has changed since then. Is it because a letter sent to a relative of a deceased patient was read on a UNC platform? Is this more about politics than saving lives?
Mr Thomas, who holds a master's degree, says his dissertation focused on "improving quality" on a platform of organisational transformation processes. That does not indicate that he has the expertise to question the capability of any medical professional.
That is why he must explain the basis of the study that led to his pronouncement about the reduction in deaths at the facility after the doctors were moved. Is he comparing like patients, similar clinical presentations, similar history or comorbidities, similar ages and similar settings regarding hospitalisation?
Also, was eight days a reasonable time to make such conclusive statements?
Is Mr Thomas alleging that the doctors who had been serving dutifully without complaint had by negligence, incompetence or malpractice caused the deaths of patients?
If they contributed to deaths at the institution, their transfers simply shift the problem to another part of the health system. A more effective course of action would have been to report their incompetence to the medical board.
Mr Thomas should not get away with attacking medical professionals with impunity. He has severely damaged the reputation of these doctors and opened the state up to possible legal action.
Yesterday the Nurses Association described the CEO’s claims as "a most shocking statistic" with "an even more shocking implication."
According to the association, Mr Thomas “cleverly" failed to say that less critically ill patients had been sent to the Couva facility in the past eight days while others waiting to be admitted to the designated treatment centre for critical patients have been left in the general system where they face the risk of less favourable outcomes.
At the COVID-19 update yesterday, neither Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh nor Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram was able to back the claims made by the NCRHA CEO. They too are seeking further clarification on the issue.
In fact, Dr Parasram, in response to questions from a reporter, said there had been no concerns about the number of deaths at the hospital while the doctors were there.
What is clear, however, is that these frontline medical professionals are now being portrayed in a negative light after working throughout the pandemic with no red flags raised about their work.
That is why Mr Thomas must be called to account for his allegations and if he cannot do so, he should either be removed or step down.