Health Minister Moses Jn Baptiste yesterday hinted that the findings of a five-member committee hired to review the St Jude Hospital Rehabilitation Project (SJHRP) might possibly lead to some form of justice.
The SJHRP was the main focus at yesterday’s Sitting of Parliament. Whilst the project has been a sore spot for most Saint Lucians, Jn Baptiste told reporters yesterday that investigations will shed much needed light on the situation.
The SJHRP has been a bone of contention between the current administration and the former United Workers Party (UWP) government, the minister said, adding that it is very important for the people of Saint Lucia to get the details.
According to him, the SJHRP has caused tremendous suffering to patients and staff employed at the hospital.
“Today I am sure you expect to hear new details about the St Jude Hospital Rehabilitation Project; why the project was suddenly stopped and certainly you will hear a lot about the processes which took place. I think it’s a very important day and there are a number of people who say why rehash the St. Jude Hospital complaints and why do we debate this in parliament. I think it’s very important because the people of Saint Lucia voted for the Saint Lucia Labour Party and part of the reason is because people felt that the last government not only delayed the completion of the St Jude Hospital Rehabilitation Project, but there are lots of things that happened and people are seeking justice,” Jn Baptiste told reporters minutes before parliament convened.
“I think it is very important for the public to get the details and for us to lay the report of the Review Committee in parliament so it can be made available to the public,” he added.
Whilst government has condemned the former UWP government for bringing the project to a halt, the health minister made it clear that government has taken a number of steps to continue works on the site.
“There are certain processes that require answers to be forthcoming (and) there are a number of things that require us to seek answers. We need answers for a number of things. It’s close to 300 million dollars of taxpayers’ money expended over a number of years… two buildings partly completed… misrepresentations and a lot of bluffing and so on. I don’t think the people of Saint Lucia will forgive any politician in the future. We talk a lot about these things and a number of things are not taken before the courts and so on and we are hoping that the investigations will lead to some form of justice,” the minister said.
Further, “we have criticized the last United Workers Party government harshly about the stoppage of the works at the St Jude Hospital Rehabilitation Project, but I think what is very important is for us to establish the fact that as a government we have taken a number of steps to continue the works and to reestablish the hospital at Augier. We have started work and we will continue, and we have not only started physical processes of cleaning and so on, but also the transition processes have started with the meeting of the steering committee and other consultations.”
The health minister also said that government will explain its decision to return to the old St Jude structure (the decision caused quite a stir on social media with many questioning whether it was the right decision).
“The most recent review committee did recommend that we go to phase one of the project which is really the former St Jude Hospital and to incorporate one or two buildings that were put on ground recently,” Jn Baptiste said.
“The recommendation is actually to not continue the new building which the last government started and we are going to spend time today to explain these recommendations. These recommendations are not coming from politicians, these recommendations are coming from professionals, engineers and so on; people who sat down and looked at the options and decided to advise the government not to continue with the latest structure which the last government erected at Augier,” the minister added.