House in turmoil over hospital controversy
Government and opposition lawmakers yesterday tested the resolve of House Speaker Pearnel Charles to restore order in Parliament following a statement by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton on the controversial noxious fumes saga at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.
Tufton sought to update the House of Representatives on the relocation of staff and patients from the main building at the facility. He told parliamentarians that his ministry had established a working group to develop a framework to identify and address the concerns of staff and stakeholders in relation to the possible effects to "identified and reported exposures at the Cornwall Regional Hospital."
In response, Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr Dayton Campbell charged that there were inconsistencies in Tufton's account of when sections of the hospital were evacuated. He also questioned reported comments by the minister that the Pan American Health Organization advised him verbally not to implement a recommendation it had put in writing to evacuate the building.
Call for apology
"We believe that he is putting the credibility of the Pan American Health Organization into question and he should really retract the statement and apologise," Campbell declared. But Tufton retorted that it was "unbecoming of the member to make that insinuation without providing clear evidence of it".
However, it was Daryl Vaz, Portland West member of parliament's, intervention that sparked rancour and threat of physical confrontation. He suggested that Campbell was conflicted in his utterances about Cornwall Regional Hospital claiming that the St Ann MP works at a health facility in
St James that would benefit from the closure of the hospital. Therefore, he should recuse himself from the discussion.
"Rubbish!" Campbell retorted, and later pointed out that as a medical practitioner at the private health facility, he could not have personally benefited from patients coming there, as his remuneration was not tied to the number of patients he treated.