We will not be derailed.
Those were the fighting words of Minister of Health Donville Inniss as he sought to give clarity today to the continuing war of words between himself and Christ Church West MP, William Duguid.
Yesterday in Parliament Inniss called on Duguid to bring the proof to his charges of malfeasance at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and today he maintained that the Opposition MP was trying to create mischief as he left politics.
“I believe this is Mr. Duguid’s parting shot as he leaves Parliament. Having served in Parliament now for almost three terms and having not contributed anything of significance to the country, I believe this is his way of saying to Barbadians, remember William Duguid who served in Parliament, said things that he had to apologise for and who now wants to go out in a blaze, I can’t say glory, but it is almost a scorched earth mentality that I am leaving and let me therefore see who I can destroy in the process,” said Inniss.
He was speaking to reporters this morning following the handing over of conveyances to five tenants in Haynesville, St. James. Calling Duguid’s recent remarks about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital “outlandish” and comments that “could not be substantiated”, the minister said it was when the character of public servants or individuals was attacked that he had to intervene.
In the last three weeks the minister maintained that the Christ Church West MP had been focusing on health and the QEH, in a seeming personal attack.
“There has been a deliberate attempt on the part of the Barbados Labour Party to pursue the minister of health and the Ministry of Health. They do it in Parliament, they do it on the social media etc. I expect that as a minister; it is no Sunday School, it is no bed of roses. I can handle my own. It is when you go after public servants and institutions that we are a little concerned.”
He said the MP had been receiving “bits and pieces” of information, and while he was not concerned where the material was coming from, his concern was that it was being contorted.
Inniss said he had told the CEO of the hospital, Dr. Dexter James that he was free to share any details regarding the procurement of materials for the hospital, what those materials were, where they were coming from, even who the suppliers were and the procedures for the selection of the suppliers.
“In other words let there be an abundance of transparency. We have nothing to hide. We would rather not have to consume time of public officers in helping to respond to these allegations of malfeasance from an Opposition politician but on the other hand I also have to work towards protecting the integrity of those who labour within the public service, the QEH in particular, and also the integrity of the institution.
“William Duguid is totally wrong. It is false and misleading to utter, whether in Parliament or elsewhere, the things he said about the QEH and supplies.
“The truth of the matter is that any supplier abroad who the QEH engages, they engage them because that supplier is the only supplier or preferred supplier for items. They may not be a local supplier and if we need to go directly to a manufacturer’s rep or whatever abroad; but more importantly, there are instances where the local suppliers cannot meet the demand in a timely fashion or there are issues pertaining to the quality of the product that the QEH then has to go and seek alternative suppliers.”
James also came out today calling the statements against the hospital “unfounded” and charged that they were seeking to undermine the credibility of the officers there.
“Statements were made that ‘the QEH has been paying 100 per cent more’ for gloves from an overseas supplier. In providing clarification the CEO indicated that the first misrepresentation to the Parliament of the country was that a box of 50 gloves on the local market cost $6.
“This is erroneous as a box of gloves cost approximately US $6 or the equivalent $12 (local)… It is therefore surprising that attempts were made to confuse issues without regard for standardising the currency,” the hospital said in a statement, adding that the two local suppliers charged a higher price for the gloves.
Additionally, he said there had been an inconsistency in service from the local agent, which at times resulted in the hospital being out of stocks.
The director also made similar claims in relation to colostomy bags, which he said were sold locally at five per cent higher than what they purchased from overseas suppliers; and gauze, for which they were being charge 31 per cent higher locally than overseas.
The local suppliers, Inniss said were not manufacturers of the products, but were buying from abroad, importing, putting on a mark-up and reselling to the hospital. (LB)