30 June, 2007

Ill Health

Board Resigns. Word came to me today that the entire Board of the Health Authority of Anguilla has resigned. I have got a copy of the letter to the Minister. It is dated 25 June, and is copied to various persons. It is not a confidential document. It paints a very sad picture of a breakdown in communication and trust between the Minister and this Board. And, it raises serious questions about the direction the Minister intends to take the Health Authority. The letter accuses the Minister of:

1. intending to reconfigure and re-constitute the Board outside of the existing legal framework;

2. procrastinating and failing to replace the three directors who had completed their terms since 31 December 2006;

3. demonstrating a reckless lack of commitment to the functioning of the health services;

4. a disregard for the four remaining members who were required to devote extra energy and time to the functioning of the Authority;

5. diverging from Government’s established plan for health without any communication with the Board and other stakeholders;

6. disregarding the legislation which governs the Health Authority of Anguilla;

7. deliberately undermining and sabotaging the effectiveness of the Board;

8. destabilizing the Authority;

9. needlessly putting the achievements of the past three and a half years at risk;

10. negating the hard work and efforts of the Ministry in advancing reform in the health sector in prior years;

11. diverging from the concept of health sector reform, which was, according to the 2000 Manifesto of the Anguilla United Front, the governing political party of which the Minister is a member, “intended to create an autonomous mechanism of health services provision, to ensure that they are as free as possible from political interference”; and

12. regressing to a body which would implement policy under the direction of the Minister and where the independence of the Board is not respected.

This is quite a litany of accusations. Any one of them would be scandalous if true. Taken together, they suggest a Ministry out of balance, losing its focus, if not its mind. And, in something as important as health! No wonder the Board resigned en masse. And, who can blame them for doing so “with immediate effect”?


  1. Buried on page 30 in this week's "Anguillian" is a report on a press conference held by the Ministry of Social Development. It says they were endeavouring to be open and transparent in its dealings! When, I wonder, will this be starting. The media is urged "to take a more investigative approach to the Ministry. Ask questions. Knock on our doors. Let us know what you think and you will get answers."

  2. Keesha Webster's interview of Neil Rogers appeared in "The Anguillian" of 10 September 2004. He starts by insulting everyone who works in Health by saying he hopes they are looking into providing adequate and trained personnel. He thus implies that the people who are there now are neither adequate nor trained. All of them.

    Although one of the main reasons for the creation of the Health Authority was to protect health services from political interference and influence, he announces that he intends to have a "direct impact" on them, implying that their public subsidy gives him this right.

    He states that he wishes to ensure that the hospital has teleprompters. A teleprompter is a device that politicians read speeches from, that allow them to look toward the camera and pretend their speaking off the cuff. Why he needs these in the hospital is unclear but he is a "medical professional" so what do I know?

    He demonstrates his complete ignorance of the UN health agencies by suggesting that PAHO and WHO are charities who can get "tax incentives" from giving us equipment. "We call this medical networking." He promises to use his contacts to achieve this. But not til after the election. Alas, he has failed to do this.

    He promises to "monitor and supervise" all sports facilities so that they don't become a "breathing ground" for illegal activities.

    He believes that success arises from education, sports and eating habits.

    He intends to pursue the completion of the Fountain Tavern [sic] project.

    We were warned.

  3. 14 persons wasted their time going to the Minister's stupid press conference. Although they were supposed to represent the entire Social Development Ministry, there is not one person listed from the health sector.

  4. Who are the board members present and past? The story is one sided, it would be interesting to hear the other side of the coin. Is there not one Anguillian who can be the director of health?. We need to have confidence in our own and stop letting people manipulate us for their own cause.

  5. In regard to health, I keep wondering if the staff is properly and thoroughly checked before recruiting them. I heard on the news that faked driver's licenses have been in the possession of some guyanese nationalsw. What about other fake documents that can be given to obtain a job. Anguilla is just a slack place anyway, from top to bottom, and we have not seen anything yet. If Mr Mitchell was not informing us through this media, these matters would not be aired or heard of, swept under the carpet. Mr Mitchell would actually be targetted but thank God he has a legal backing which the avedrage person does not have. Kudos Mr Mitchell. Job well done.

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  7. For the benefit of the person who enquired, the retiring Board Members who signed the letter were:
    Phylis Fleming Banks, Chairperson
    Vernetta Richardson
    Fabian Proctor
    Pastor John Gumbs
    Mr Proctor is a senior civil servant. The letter of resignation throws a very bad light on the motives of the Minister. It occurs to me that it would have taken quite a lot of feeling for him to have signed such a letter.

  8. You need to ask, were the hands of CEO Dexter James completely clean over the Minister’s loss of confidence in the Board? Was there a hidden personal dimension on his part? What role did he play in the downfall of the Board? What was his motive? What was he trying to hide? If he wanted to, with his experience he would not have had much difficulty playing the Minister and twisting him around his finger. Perhaps we will never know now.

  9. Why was the letter sent to the Minister and Not Dexter? Is the Board grievieances with the Minister alone or the CEO?

    If the situation is so bad, why not come out and speak to the issue of the CEO. Sometimes we in AXA like to cast the blame on the politicians without coming right out and putting the blame on where it should be at. ALthough, I do agree the Minister is wrong for not properly communicating with the Board.

    Boards do not just resign without first having documented evidence of their concerns to the public and to the oteh rstakeholders. This decision to reason was rash and unprofessional. Our people health are at stake.

    Finally, I will the Board members to com eand clealry and say if they think the CEO Dexter is doing a great job and the problem is only with the MiInister interference.

  10. The accusations of the resigned board members are so general in nature that they pose more questions than they answer. This gives rise to much confusion and imagination, as seen in the above two posts.

    The resigned members have a lot of valuable information that the people are entitled to know. I find it unsettling that they are willing to talk about the Minister's attitude, but are, in effect, conspiring with him to hide the embarrassing details from the people.

    We are entitled to know the details of what the Minister has done in our name.

  11. Anyone else wishing to read the entire letter of resignation can do so here

  12. We don't have Royal Commissions of Enquiry in Anguilla, or an Ombudsman who can do a management audit of HAA and write an objective report to both government and the people. We don't have a Public Accounts Committee. We don't have legislative committees that can have public hearings. We have an Auditor General but unlike in other Overseas Territories he or she works in secret. We do not have the democratic institutions that allow for a useful enquiry into these very important matters of public policy. How can we change this so that we have somewhere to turn to for answers the people can rely on? When the UK negotiators for our constitutional review get here, will the people be represented by those who prefer that we have closed government, unaccountable to the people?

  13. Until we have reasonable democratic institutions to turn to, I'm afraid that Elkin Richardson is the best we've got. As Cuthwin said once on TV, when he was the only independent media in Anguilla, "I'm not much, but I'm the best we've got." So I ask Elkin to invite Phyllis and Neil to discuss these issues in front of God and everybody on Monday night on KOOL-FM.

  14. Neil Rogers what have you been doing?
    Education and now Health being kept back by your procrastinating, disregarding attitude. The young and the sick.
    Feeling is believing?
    I'm feeling it all right.


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