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'Grandstand if you want' - Tufton counters Opposition criticism of handling of toxic fumes at Cornwall Regional

Published:Friday | February 17, 2017 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott
Horace Dalley

Heath Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has turned back stinging criticisms from his opposition counterpart over the issue of noxious fumes choking patients and staff at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James.

Horace Dalley on Friday launched an invective against the health minister and the management of the hospital, arguing that they have been negligent in the handling of the issue of the fumes which forced operations at the major hospital to be halted last Monday.

Tufton, during a tour of the St James-based hospital earlier in the week, said the fumes have been linked to a 20-year-old ventilation system which was recently put back into operation.

He stated it could take up to six months to fully address the issue and the undertaking could run into millions, forcing other projects to be shelved.

But Dalley, a former health minister, is not accepting that pronouncement from the minister.

He said Tufton and his health ministry have waited too long to take action and it is unacceptable to ask patients to wait six months to experience normalcy at the hospital.

In responding to Dalley, Tufton said he was prepared to accept that successive administrations of Government have been less than diligent in ensuring proper management of the facilities and infrastructure at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.


"If we are to take responsibility for what is happening, we are to take collective responsibility. This has been happening for many years," Tufton said in rebuttal to Dalley's charge of negligence.

The minister maintained he was committed to having the issue rectified, but blasted Dalley for seeking to gain political mileage.

"I expect that this issue is an opportunity for points scoring. He can stand on a soapbox and grandstand if he wants. He has that luxury; I don't. So I have to focus on the work at hand," Tufton told The Gleaner.