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NCRHA yet to meet specialist heart doctor

By Miranda La Rose Friday, January 24 2014

The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) is not unwilling to negotiate with lone local paediatric cardiologist Dr Dianne Alexander, but the NCRHA has been unable to meet with her to discuss compensation.

“It is not true that the NCRHA is unbending in its position with Dr Alexander,” NCRHA chairman Dr Shehenaz Mohammed told Newsday yesterday adding, “While the NCRH treats this as a matter of high priority, we cannot force someone to come and meet with us. We are available.”

Responding to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan’s comments that Alexander should be “well compensated” to return to the public health sector since she is the only specialist available in her field locally, Mohammed said the NCRHA is willing to meet with Alexander, but the specialist has postponed three meetings to discuss compensation.

Newsday understands the last meeting was scheduled for January 17, but Alexander asked the NCRHA to postpone it because of her inability to have an industrial relations adviser present with her. The next meeting is tentatively due on February 7. Newsday was unable to contact Alexander.

Noting Alexander’s services were greatly needed, Mohammed said the NCRHA board asked her last August 30 to return to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Paediatric Cardiology Clinic, Mt Hope because there is no other one in her field.

At the meeting, Mohammed said, “Dr Alexander had indicated to us that she did not want to return. We tried encouraging her to return. She said she would need staffing and medical equipment. There was no talk of remuneration”

According to Mohammed, “We informed her that purchase orders had already been sent out and staffing was something we would arrange once she informed us what she needed, and we looked forward to her coming on board.”

The NCRHA heard nothing more from Alexander until later in the year when she indicated she was looking at increased remuneration. The remuneration was discussed by the board, Mohammed said.

“We have no problem at the level of the board paying senior consultants for their services...But as the board responsible for paying tax payers funds, we have to ensure what it is we are going to be given in return, and what sort of work output she would be held accountable for in the special contract.”

In dealing with the shortage of paediatric cardiologists, a paediatrician is currently undergoing a two-year training period in paediatric cardiology in the United States.

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