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Senators query medical standards

By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, March 12 2014

click on pic to zoom in
ADJUSTMENTS: A Parliamentary clerk adjusts the chair of Senate President Timothy Hamel- Smith during sitting of the Upper House yesterday at the Parli...
ADJUSTMENTS: A Parliamentary clerk adjusts the chair of Senate President Timothy Hamel- Smith during sitting of the Upper House yesterday at the Parli...

IT IS NOT a compulsory requirement for medical doctors to continue training in order to be registered to practice, Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan told the Senate yesterday. Amid concerns over the standard of practice in the medical field given recent reports of botched C-section surgeries, Khan was questioned by Independent Senator Dr Victor Wheeler over requirements for renewal of registration of doctors.

Wheeler, an obstetrician/gynecologist, asked, “Could the minister indicate whether it is the intention of the Council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago to have continued medical education become a requirement for the renewal of registration by doctors in order to practice medicine?”

Khan said, “the continuing medical education is not a requirement at this time, but it may be in the future.” He told Senators gathered at the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain that said continued medical education is, “not tied to registration and is voluntary, not mandatory”. Wheeler asked Khan if he thought doctors should be forced to continue their education while on the job, “in light of developments”. However, the question was not allowed by Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith as it sought an opinion of the minister and not fact.

PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi – acting as Opposition Whip in place of an ill Camille Robinson-Regis — queried whether there was a conflict between a lack of a compulsory requirement for continued education for registration and the details of the contracts drafted by regional health authorities for medical staff.

“In the contracts I have seen the requirement of some form of continued education,” Al Rawi said. Khan said the contracts drawn up by the regional health authorities are not tied to the requirement of registration. He did not address whether there was a need for this to be so.

Wheeler further raised the question of the status of the council of the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago. The council regulates the Board and is charged with determining the standards to ascertain fitness to practice medicine. Wheeler said there is currently no council in place.

Khan said, “Cabinet has approved the appointment of a council of the Medical Board and they should be getting instruments of appointment this week.”

Khan also commented on the appointment of the Tobago Regional Health Authority. He said the Tobago House of Assembly had submitted its nominees to the Ministry of Health (as opposed to directly to Cabinet) last November, was directed to re-submit the names to Cabinet, but there had been some delay in submission directly to Cabinet.

He said Minister of Tobago Affairs Dr Delmon Baker was called in to “expedite” the process. However PNM Senator Shamfa Cudjoe queried whether there was ambiguity over the reporting line on the issue.

“It is unfortunate that the TRHA board names were supplied by the THA in a tardy manner,” Khan said. He said a new board had been approved “four or five weeks ago”.

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