Health Minister Molwyn Joseph has admitted a blunder was made in the procedure that was used to transfer senior nurse Clarissa Christopher from one post to another.
The information was contained in the weekly Cabinet notes that were prepared by the government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst, and circulated to the media. The note, which was the last item in post Cabinet notes, read, “The Minister of Health reported that the procedure in transferring a senior nurse from one posting to another was not proper. That will be corrected.” The minister did not indicate how the error was made, or who made it.
Christopher, the current matron of the Fiennes Institute, was recently transferred to a new post as Matron of Correctional Institutes having direct responsibility for inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, the Sunshine Home for Girls and the residents at the Boys Training School.
The transfer, which was expected to take effect on September 1, is still pending, and the senior nurse has returned to her substantive post at the Fiennes Institute while she awaits further instructions from the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Establishment Division – the two entities responsible for finalising the process.
Prior to the acknowledgement by the health minister, the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA), had strongly objected to the transfer arguing that the proper procedure to transfer the senior nurse was not followed.
In a recent interview, president of ABNA, Karen Josiah, pointed out that Cabinet jumped the gun by making the decision without consulting both the PSC and the Establishment Division which are required to make a recommendation before a nurse can be transferred from one department to another.
Josiah also noted that a recommendation is customarily made by the Principal Nursing Officer who usually has an input in whether or not a nurse should be transferred, why she thinks the position is important and how it would benefit the nursing profession.
In this case, the Nurses Association also lamented that the transfer is a waste of resources given that Nurse Christopher is experienced and trained in midwifery and geriatrics (care of the elderly).
Joseph had earlier defended the decision and said it was properly done.
OBSERVER media also reached out to Chairman of the PSC, Lauchland Lake, for further clarification on the matter.
Lake said he was not able to comment on the controversial transfer of the senior nurse because the matter is not yet before the commission. He said the transfer would have to be routed through the Establishment Division before it is submitted to the PSC.