Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Class-action lawsuit looms over CRH

Published:Wednesday | April 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
Dr Elon Thompson

Junior doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) have indicated that they will pursue a class-action suit against the Government regarding the unhealthy environment at the western Jamaica hospital.

The incensed doctors informed the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) of the impending lawsuit at a meeting held on April 11, minutes of which were obtained by The Gleaner. The JMDA, represented by president Dr Elon Thompson, heard that the Western Regional Health Authority (WHRA) had moved out of the hospital complex two years ago, and was paying rent at US$100,000 per month.

"If they were moved out so long in advance, it suggests that something else was known and hidden from them (the junior doctors)," read a section of the minutes.




In a no-holds-barred meeting, the JMDA was bashed by the membership and accused of abandoning them. However, the association apologised and reiterated that calls and attempts at meetings with the ministry have been denied.

The doctors are of the view that the public is not fully aware of what is happening at the hospital. The meeting was asked why the JMDA had not taken legal action to get the Pan American Health Organization report when its efforts were unsuccessful. The JMDA said it had made repeated attempts to get the PAHO and environmental reports and was denied. It only received a leaked copy.

The JMDA representative "stated that we will engage an attorney re class action lawsuit/equivalent in Jamaica," the minutes read. The meeting was also told that "the dockets seen in staff clinics [were] to be kept and photocopied for information purposes".

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday reacted calmly to the junior doctors' decision to pursue a class-action suit against the Government:

"I have said publicly that persons have a right to act in their best interest," Tufton stated.

He said he had met with doctors some weeks ago and had never denied any meeting with them. On the relocation of the WHRA, he was unable to say how much was paid for rent, but said it was his understanding that they had moved because of space.

The Gleaner has learned that lawyers are actively scouting patients to represent them in impending lawsuits.