Health Minister says his ‘hands are tied’ in Dr. Jose Humphreys’ matter

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

The Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph, has stated that there is very little he can legally do to intervene in the matter of Dr. Jose Humphreys and the Antigua and Barbuda Medical Council.

Speaking Tuesday on Connecting with Dave Lester Payne, Joseph said the Medical Practitioners Act, which was passed in 2009, removed the power of the Minister and the Cabinet to intervene in decisions made by the Medical Council.

“What was the major change in the law—the new law that was created? It gave the Medical Council autonomy to make its own decision. The previous Act had a provision that allows for an appeal to the Cabinet. The 2009 Act eliminated that, so the minister has no legal authority to vary any decision of the Medical Council,” he said.

Minister Joseph added that he felt that the Council and all entities—save for those created by the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda—should be accountable to the Cabinet

He explained, “When individuals go before the public every four or five years and the public elects them to make decisions and run that country, there should be no creature, by law, to give other entities or individuals power that exceeds the power of the Minister, unless it is in the Constitution.”

In the meantime, Minister Joseph defended the doctor’s character, stating that anyone “will be hard-pressed to find a young man that has come out of a family environment and social environment that could be more prepared with great values than Dr. Humphreys. I do not support any aspersions against this young man in terms of his character.”

Over two months ago, the Medical Council informed Dr. Humphreys, via letter, that it had removed his name from the register of medical practitioners who were licensed to practice in the state and ordered him to cease all medical practice.

It explained that, for various reasons pertaining to his qualification, it considered his previous registration and licensing null and void.

This led to public outcry from his patients, colleagues and the wider public, in support of the popular doctor.

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