Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Letter of the Day | Give us proof of UHWI's negligence

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 8:11 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This is an open letter to Marc Ramsay.

Dear Mr Ramsay,

We at the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) share your understanding of the State's special legal duty to children and are acutely mindful of charter provisions relating to measures of protection for children as "... minors or as part of the family, society and the State".

It is because all children are entitled to constitutional and other protection and because the numbers of deaths of premature babies appeared to be unusually high that caused the public defender to commence an investigation.

We take this opportunity to inform you that our investigation continues, and as such, we have not yet arrived at any conclusion. Additionally, since the investigation is still ongoing, it is not prudent to disclose any information to the public at this time.

Note is taken of your reference in your letter to the University Hospital of the West Indies' (UHWI) board of management and the press release issued by that body on October 24, 2015. While the public defender has knowledge of the press release, the mandate which you said was issued by the said UHWI's board of management was not, and could not have been directed at, or to the public defender.

With specific reference to your clients, we are not sure of what you mean when you say they "... were made to relive the traumatic experience during the investigation ...". We, however, entirely understand the painful situation that each parent and family faced at the loss of a child.

 

A STIPULATED DEADLINE

 

At the same time, the public defender expresses appreciation to those parents who came forward to provide details of the treatment of their premature infants at the UHWI.

While the investigations have turned up some issues, unlike you, we are not yet privy to the revelation of evidence "... that the UHWI was negligent and that such negligence amounted to a breach of our clients' constitutional rights". As counsel seized of such relevant material, it is our request that you share it with us.

It is our understanding that from as far back as November 2015, you gave the UHWI an ultimatum regarding settlement, and if that ultimatum was not satisfied by a stipulated deadline, you would commence proceedings in court. We, therefore, assume that you continue to pursue your clients' interest. The point is, our investigations are completely independent of any action counsel may or may not advance.

ARLENE HARRISON HENRY

Public Defender