Does NCRHA have legal authority over Couva Hospital?


File photo: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The Opposition Leader is calling on the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) to clarify the legal basis under which it has the authority to manage the Couva Hospital.

She asked whether the decisions being taken by the management of the NCRHA with respect to the hospital are beyond its legal authority.

The hospital is currently being used to treat covid19 patients.

There are have been heated disputes between doctors and the NCRHA, which had rotated doctors out out of the hospital. The authority has argued both that the medical chief of staff had requested the move, and that patient outcomes had improved as a result.

In a release, Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Couva Medical and Multi-Training Facility was incorporated in 2018 under the Companies Act 1995. She said at that time Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the facility would be jointly owned by the government and the University of the West Indies.

“However, based on the most recent annual returns filed for the company on August 26, 2020, the only shareholder was the Minister of Finance, as corporation sole, holding all ten ordinary shares at a value of $1 per share that was issued. No shares have been issued to the UWI. Therefore, the company remains a company wholly owned by the State.”

She said in 2019, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and then managing director of the Couva Medical and Multi-Training Facility Ltd Nigel Romano said the NCRHA would manage the operations of the facility. In February 2020, she said, Deyalsingh confirmed that the hospital would be used as part of the covid19 response.

“There is an abundance of irrefutable evidence that the NCRHA is in management of the Couva Hospital which includes but is not limited to the admissions of patients; allocation, assignment and rotation of staff. The company incorporated on July 3, 2018 has no current role in the management of the Couva Hospital.”

Persad-Bissessar said under Section 3 of the Regional Health Authorities Act, along with the act’s first schedule, there are specific boundaries for each of all five regional health authorities, based on local government municipalities.

“The Couva Hospital is situated in the Couva/ Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Corporation and therefore pursuant to the act, the SWRHA has jurisdiction for the Couva Hospital.”

Persad-Bissessar said for the NCRHA to have jurisdiction over the Couva Hospital and exercise its powers and functions under the RHA Act, the jurisdiction of the NCRHA must extend to the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Corporation.

She said amending the first schedule to allow this would have to be done by order of the Health Minister, and this would have to be laid in Parliament, subject to negative resolution of Parliament.

“If no order has been published and/or laid in the Parliament, the board and the CEO will be acting ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) the jurisdiction of the NCRHA as the NCRHA is confined to what is prescribed in the Act. Consequently, any decisions taken by the NCRHA relating to the management and/or operations of the Couva Hospital would be null, void, illegal and of no legal effect. Therefore, we request the legal authority with which the board of the NCRHA and the CEO (are) acting in the management of the Couva Hospital.”

Back To Top