COMMENTARY: Sir Molwyn Sounds Completely off

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

by:Ernest J. Farfingbottom 

How in the f*** can it make any sense for the Health Minister to get up and say that in order for things to run smoothly at the hospital, he has to personally go up there everyday to interview and eavesdrop on the staff?? Am I living in the twilight zone?? What the actual f***?? Did you hear him?? That is what he said, not once, but several times.

Those of us who try to protect our sanity by not dwelling on the political misadventures of our elected officials were driven to the brink of madness recently upon witnessing the Minister’s press conference and other media appearances.

The hospital is a flaming disaster – operating theatres out of commission, AC not working, nurses constantly on the brink, maintenance issues persistent – and this man coolly tells the nation that his solution is to just go up there and handle everything himself. What??

Where is the hospital Chief Executive Officer? The Chief Operations Officer? The Chief Maintenance Officer? Where is the hospital board Chairman? Do these positions not exist? Are they paid directly or indirectly from the taxpayers of this country? So how in the f*** can he calmly say that the solution to the problem is for him to personally go up to the hospital every morning?

He is then asked if there is an issue with failing management. The answer is obviously yes! And it is the government’s job (his job) to get the right management in place. But instead of admitting that, he deflects and contradicts himself repeatedly. He blames the UPP for how legislation passed in its era restricted the Minister from being involved in day to day operations, thereby reemphasizing his insane argument that the solution to poor hospital management is ministerial micromanagement every day by him showing up in person.

He seems to lay the responsibility at the feet of the board only at times, saying that there had been a failure to bring things to his attention swiftly enough to secure the government’s timely intervention in the past. But then he defends the board at other times saying they are doing a good job now because they are a new board, but admits that they’ve been in place for a year and he still finds basic issues not dealt with.

The man said he had to overhear people discussing an issue of a valve being off, in order to address it personally. What is that – governance by eavesdropping? So, what does this mean for the people? Our hospital management and accountability framework is so poor that if the minister does not go up there everyday and eavesdrop on the staff, problems will go unrectified???

No minister is supposed to be at the main hospital personally directing and correcting day-to-day operations. That is insanity. If he feels the need to do that, or if the occasion arises, it is because the MANAGEMENT HAS FAILED SPECTACULARLY.

His job is to engage the management and assess their performance based on unbiased reports reaching him of the hospital’s performance. His job is to make management accountable for the job they are SPECTACULARLY failing to do. Not to go up to the hospital and do everything himself. What kind of banana republic are we?

And this is where the other failings of our democracy are on full display. Our parliamentary structure is so pathetic and so flawed, that we lack parliamentary committees to oversee or inquire into anything at all on behalf of the people who pay for this sometimes abysmal and sometimes deadly public health service.

In a civilized democracy, the CEO, COO, and C-whatever-O of the hospital would be summoned before something called the Joint Committee of Parliament on Public Health, to publicly address concerns about the functioning of the institution.

Such a committee would be composed of MPs and Senators of both Upper and Lower Houses. They would meet regularly and the hospital management and board would be mandated by law to appear before the committee with a certain regularity.

MPs would have the opportunity to share the experiences of their constituents at the hospital and demand that senior (highly paid) officials be accountable for failings. That is how a Parliament should work. That is how accountability should work. That is how a democracy should work.

But here? Here, Parliament is only good for political speeches and boycotts and pappyshowing – no actual work taking place.

There should be an independent external audit of hospital performance that occurs every six months. It can be done by an independently appointed Inspector-General for Public Health. These are the kinds of positions that exist in a functioning democracy that gives half a sh** about accountability.

Such an office should be responsible for mounting a regular six-monthly assessment of hospital performance, assessing finances, interviewing doctors, patients, management, the board, the minister, etc etc, and providing a report on where there are issues to be addressed – poor communication, backlogs, lack of maintenance, understaffing, morale issues, safety issues, wastage, etc etc.

This report should first be provided to the Minister and the Cabinet, as well as to MPs and Senators, then made public. It would form the regular basis upon which the Minister and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Health can assess the performance of the hospital. The Inspector General’s Office should also be capable of launching specific probes into specific issues identified by the Minister or by the Committee. That is how systems are supposed to work.

But here? F*** no. Banana republic to the max. Molwyn was asked on radio how the government was dealing with nurses being chronically burnt out. The man says the government is offering scholarships for more people to become nurses. How in the f*** does that make sense? You are offering scholarships for people to join an underpaid and overworked profession????? But you are not increasing the pay for the profession????

Without a significant pay increase, you will not encourage people to STAY in the profession you buffoon, and it will continue to be overworked and underpaid, which means that anyone who takes up a scholarship to study it, is just as likely to move overseas with their skills you paid for, as all the people who are already OVERWORKED AND UNDERPAID NOW. I swear to God, it is hard to imagine that politicians can be this dense, this incompetent, and this dumb, but holy f****** sh**, Molwyn stunned me this week. How can you be THIS stupid????

Do you want to know the real reasons why things at the hospital seem to be going awry? Here’s a list:

Zero accountability of the hospital management to the hospital board
Zero accountability of the hospital board to the Minister / the executive branch
Zero accountability of the either the board, the management, or the Minister to Parliament
Zero routine unbiased formal assessment of hospital performance upon which policymakers can act
An incompetent board
An incompetent management team
Zero performance checks and balances for either
A minister who wants to be in charge of every aspect of everything all the time because he alone knows best because he has allowed the entire system to become ridden with problems
Underpaid and overworked nursing staff who have low morale and whose performance cannot be clamped down on because there are already too few of them and they are already going the extra mile because they are overworked and underpaid (same with our police)
Doctors for whom there is a weak national structure of accountability for malpractice or unprofessional behaviour
No adequate means to act upon complaints by patients and clients
A breakdown in effective communications between involved parties at all levels

I could pick all that up just from listening to Molwyn talk rubbish all this week. God knows what a proper formal assessment by unbiased authority would discover.

We haven’t even begun to talk about Clarevue or the clinics, or the mishandling of the Cancer Centre situation, or the absence of an adequate number of trained medical and health specialists to deal with psychiatry, counselling, special needs assessment, developmental disorders, speech therapy, etc.

Meanwhile, we have Sir Molwyn, who was knighted, ostensibly for his handling of the Covid pandemic, before the pandemic even ended. What a man. Rolls Royce Molwyn. And instead of sacking this fool, Grabston Browne will just jump on his radio station come Saturday and talk out his ass. Banana republic.

And the bottom feeders will come to suckle and praise as is their God-given nature. They can’t manage the damn hospital but they had the gumption to stick Lester’s wutless name on the wall.

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