State blocks Dr Dawes’ applications for senior positions

PUNISHED!

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Observer staff reporter hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 23, 2015

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DR Alfred Dawes' efforts to advance to more senior positions in the public health system are being obstructed, leading to speculation within the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) that he is being punished for his exposure in May this year of the health service's extremely poor state.


"The president was getting frustrated because, since speaking out, applications he has made for more senior positions have been put on hold," a JMDA member said of Dr Dawes, who recently resigned as president of the association and as senior registrar at Spanish Town Hospital.


"He had also indicated that he didn't feel like he had a future in the public service," the source added.


Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer contacted Dr Dawes -- who has been out of the island since October 1 -- he said he did not wish to go into details about his resignation.


"I don't want to comment on why I'm giving up my post at the hospital. I've given a lot of service professionally, and also as an advocate over the last year. At this point in time, I want to concentrate on professional development," he said.


In May, Dr Dawes created shockwaves around the country after painting a picture of a public health system that was on the brink of collapse, with hospitals lacking equipment vital for surgeries and doctors working in substandard conditions that pose serious risk to patients and themselves.


Dr Dawes had used a PowerPoint presentation at a press conference to juxtapose what is required for surgery and what the doctors have to make do with. He had revealed that proper antibacterial soap was not available, and the infrastructure of hospitals presented a higher than normal risk for infection, placing people's lives at risk.


"What we are supposed to scrub with for surgery is an antiseptic solution to ensure bacteria is dead, but what we use is antibacterial soap, which is cut in half to last. We are supposed to operate in a sterile unit in an operating theatre and we have to have buckets catching water," Dr Dawes had said.


"There are operating theatres with mildew on the walls. To make matters worse, theatre doors should be closed to prevent bacteria from getting in and out, and we're operating in theatres where doors can't be closed and are left open for the duration of the surgery," he added.


He also pointed out that if any complications arose from the surgeries, the surgeon was liable as the procedures should not be conducted under such conditions, and legal representation from the State was not guaranteed.


"The Office of the Attorney General will not provide support for any doctor who uses substandard equipment. If a case comes up, we are on our own, and we only hope the patient will understand that we did what we had to do for them to get their surgery," Dr Dawes said.


Earlier this week following news of the deaths of 18 babies in intensive care at Cornwall Regional Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies, one media house reported that Dr Dawes had been earmarked for a top position at Spanish Town Hospital and has left the leadership of the JMDA.


But yesterday, Dr Dawes said that report was not true.


"It is simple. My contract with the South East Regional Health Authority ended in September. I am currently away on end-of-contract leave studying, and I have opted not to renew my contract. I am also leaving the government service at this point. As such, I'm not constitutionally qualified to be the JMDA president," he stated.


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