Health Ministry officials were quick to respond to questions raised by Shadow Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin on the Supreme Court case of axed CEO of the Bermuda Health Council, Tawanna Wedderburn.
In an opinion column released by Bermuda Real on Wednesday (November 20), the Opposition MP questioned points raised in Ms Wedderburn’s claim for a Judicial Review.
She served a Writ against the Premier, the Minister of Health, and others, contending that her termination as CEO was unlawful.
The former CEO accused Premier David Burt “of assisting former Premier Dr Ewart Brown over the reimbursement rates charged by Dr Brown for medical services provided by his Bermuda HealthCare Services” and that her dismissal was politically motivated.
Ultimately, she lost her claim for Judicial Review on the grounds that her role was not sufficiently “public” to qualify for the public law remedy of Judicial Review.
But the Shadow Minister of Health noted that the evidence Ms Wedderburn submitted to the court is “critically important”.
“Her evidence is nothing short of jaw-dropping”, said Ms Gordon-Pamplin.
She noted that the Court’s Judgement records at para 23: “There is evidence of direct involvement by the Premier [David Burt] in fixing rates of reimbursement that would be applied to Bermuda Healthcare and BDC ‘to achieve an outcome that would be perceived by [Dr.] Brown to be favourable’.”
Her statement prompted a quick response by the Ministry of Health which stated outright that the Government “continues to robustly deny the allegations, “which, like the claims disproved by the judgment are baseless”.
This after the Opposition MP noted that Ms Wedderburn’s allegations were confirmed under oath.
The Court records at paragraph 29 states: “If they are true, they would raise very serious questions as to whether the statutory purpose of the [Bermuda Health] Council was being undermined by political pressure from members of the Cabinet for questionable reasons.”
Said Ms Gordon-Pamplin: “If they are true, they would raise very serious questions as to whether the statutory purpose of the [Bermuda Health] Council was being undermined by political pressure from members of the Cabinet for questionable reasons.”
And she asked: “What are those ‘questionable reasons’?”
Based on what the Court noted were “very serious questions”, the Shadow Minister said: “Answers are required.”
Hard on the heels of that report, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health referred to the other section of that same paragraph 29 that Ms Gordon-Pamplin failed to mention.
That section states: “It should be emphasized that the allegations that have been made by the Applicant against the Respondents have not been the subject of discovery or cross-examination and I make no findings one way or the other as to their veracity.”
On that note, the spokesperson added: “As stated previously, the Government is satisfied with the outcome as the case was baseless. The Government continues to robustly deny the allegations made by the Applicant, which, like the claims disproved by the judgment are baseless.