NA hospital doctor moves to High Court over planned transfer By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
February 13, 2002

Medical Superintendent of the New Amsterdam Hospital, Dr John Austin has moved to the High Court seeking redress following a statement by Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy last month in New Amsterdam.

Dr Ramsammy on a television programme "The Minister and You" announced that he intended to implement the recommendation of a five-man Commission of Inquiry set up by him, to transfer Dr Austin to the Georgetown Hospital.

Stabroek News has been reliably informed that a judge has granted an order to put on hold any further proceedings to transfer

Dr Austin until hearings on the matter are concluded. The order was granted last week in the capital.

Following the announcement by Ramsammy last month, Dr Austin had signalled his intention to take legal action. The five-man commission had recommended that Dr Austin be transferred "for a period to the Georgetown Hospital where it is believed he will benefit from a busier and more structured service." Austin had said then that the commission did not find him guilty of any offence and therefore he was refusing to be transferred.

The commission was appointed by the minister to investigate the death of Shahabodeen Kassim who was shot by a bandit at his Vryheid Village, West Canje Berbice home and another patient identified only as Chatterpaul.

The Medical Superintendent is of the view that he has been singled out for victimisation and has vowed to resist efforts to transfer him to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The commission had also urged that "the service of the hospital be urgently improved as it relates to professional assets, medical personnel and laboratory services." However, Ramsammy is of the view that maximum use is not being made of the existing human and physical resources at the hospital, arguing that this is the cause of its woes.

The hospital is in need of at least seven GMOs to cater for an efficient 24-hour shift. At the moment there is only one GMO at the institution. It is also in need of five more consultants/specialists to complement the present four.

In December last year Ramsammy had promised that an additional surgeon would have been sent to the institution but to date this promise has not been fulfilled. During the week of January 14-18, Ramsammy publicly promised Berbicians on television that a GMO would have joined the staff from Georgetown by January 28. However, to date the GMO has not arrived at the hospital.

Over recent times Ramsammy has been talking about beefing up the hospital's medical staff but sources at the hospital say this has been an age-old problem with only brief periods of improvement. Following the death of Kassim some members of the public called for drastic changes at the institution and for major improvements in its medical staff, services and facilities. Since then the issue has quietly slid onto the back-burner of social problems affecting Berbicians.