By Robert A. Emmanuel
The Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, has submitted a proposal to Cabinet to employ Dr. Jose Humphreys as a consultant within the Ministry of Health while he completes an internship and medical examination.
On Wednesday, lawyers representing the doctor and the Medical Council were invited to Cabinet to find an amicable solution to the Dr. Humphreys debacle.
According to the Cabinet notes, the Council explained the rationale which led to the deregistration of Dr. Humphreys’ licence to practice, and the reason for requiring him to take an exam.
During the post-Cabinet press briefing, yesterday, the Chief of Staff within the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst said the Council made similar representation to the Cabinet about the matter as they did in the court, and it was agreed that Dr. Humphreys would serve as a consultant.
“At the end of the session, it was agreed that the deficiency in the doctor’s documentation would require him to do the exam as well as the internship,” Hurst stated.
“Since this would mean that he wouldn’t be able to practice medicine in the interim, a solution would be have the doctor serve as a consultant within the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health was very eager to ensure that the doctor was not left in the cold.”
Dr Humphreys, according to Hurst, will take at least one year to complete the internship, while the medical examination—which will be an ongoing process—will take 15 months.
Meanwhile, the government has also considered making an amendment to the Medical Practitioners Act to create an inexpensive means for aggrieved persons to challenge the Board.
Last week, legal and medical practitioners denied that the Cabinet had authority to make those decisions, pointing to Section 15 of the Medical Practitioners Act, where any challenge to its decision regarding the denial of a licence, has to be appealed in Court.
According to Hurst, “Fairness and justice are the guiding principles … if you are a young doctor and you are attempting to practice medicine in Antigua for the first time, and you must spend significant money to go to the Appeals Court and the Privy Council, you will never get started.”
Adding that one of the means may be the Cabinet, Hurst noted that if “you come before the Cabinet, it virtually costs you nothing—though you may need counsel to guide you through the process.”
This amendment originates from the King Medical Qualification Act, which was passed in August 1958.
The Act allowed for William Hezekiah King, who studied medicine in Germany, to practice medicine in the country, after he was prevented from doing so.
As the law states, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Medical Act, or any law amending the same, it shall be lawful for WILLIAM HEZEKIAH KING to practise medicine, surgery and midwifery and to demand and recover in any Court of Law charges for professional aid, advice or visits or the cost of any medicines or other medical or surgical appliances rendered or supplied by him to his patients or for the performance of any operation.”
Efforts to reach Dr. Humphreys for a comment have been unsuccessful, up to press time.