Trinidad Opposition Leader Demands Firing of Health Minister Over Baby Deaths

Outrage in Trinidad as 11 newborn babies die in hospital, prompting calls for accountability and compensation from the opposition leader.

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Trinidad Opposition Leader Demands Firing of Health Minister Over Baby Deaths

Trinidad Opposition Leader Demands Firing of Health Minister Over Baby Deaths

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Opposition Leader of Trinidad and Tobago, has demanded the immediate firing of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and compensation for families affected by the deaths of at least 11 newborn babies at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The deaths occurred between February and April this year, with the babies reportedly falling ill with bacterial infections while in the NICU.

Persad-Bissessar expressed grief and heartbreak over the babies' deaths, calling it a national crisis. She believes the deaths could have been avoided if the $2 billion Couva Hospital had been used as a children's hospital, as it is equipped with a fully stocked Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "I am calling for the immediate removal of the Minister of Health," she stated. "I am calling for compensation to be paid to every single family who has lost their baby."

The Opposition Leader criticized the government's handling of the situation and called for a report on the protocols, medical and equipment supplies, and staffing at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to prevent further deaths. She also demanded the removal of the entire management and board of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) and for the government to provide psychological counseling to the affected families.

A 42-year-old nurse, who is the mother of one of the babies who died, has accused her colleagues of 'hoggish' and unprofessional behavior. The nurse's lawyers have issued a pre-action protocol, claiming medical negligence on the part of the staff and the NWRHA. They are seeking general, special, aggravated and exemplary damages, interest, costs, and any further order that the court deems fit.

The parents of twin baby girls who died at the NICU, Travis and Jodie Molino, have been struggling with the heartbreaking loss. The Molino family is still waiting to receive the medical records of their babies, despite assurances and a promise from the Health Minister that the records would be provided by Wednesday. The hospital's failure to provide the records has been described as an "indictment on the institution" by the family's legal representatives.

Why this matters: The deaths of 11 newborn babies due to suspected infections at a public hospital's neonatal unit have sparked outrage and calls for accountability in Trinidad and Tobago. The tragedy highlights potential issues in the country's healthcare system and the need for improved protocols, resources, and oversight to prevent such devastating losses in the future.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has responded that free private counseling has been offered to the bereaved families and that he will not politicize the "sad event." The NWRHA has sent the head of the Infection Prevention and Control Unit at the Port of Spain General Hospital on administrative leave pending the conclusion of investigations. They have stated that further recommendations for suspension will be made if deemed necessary to advance the investigation. The Prime Minister has expressed frustration with the Opposition's handling of the issue as the affected families continue to grieve and seek answers.

Key Takeaways

  • Opposition leader demands firing of Health Minister over 11 newborn deaths at hospital
  • Calls for compensation to affected families and removal of hospital management
  • Nurse accuses colleagues of 'hoggish' behavior, files medical negligence claim
  • Parents of twin girls who died still await medical records from hospital
  • Tragedy highlights issues in Trinidad's healthcare system, need for improved protocols