By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts– A former senior official of the St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force says that “it is strange” that police officers delivered a letter requesting immediate retirement to the home of the now ex Chief Medical Officer (CMO) 58-year-old Dr. Patrick Martin.
“They do have messengers at Government Headquarters so all I can say for now is that it is strange”, he said in response to this reporter who questioned the type of delivery method used.
This latest controversy concerning Dr. Martin and the government comes one year after he was apparently forced on pre-retirement leave amidst the hot topic of a stem cell research scandal.
On Thursday 16th June, 2016 he had received a letter at 3:00 P.M indicating that he was to go on leave effective midnight.
Dr. Martin had discovered a stem cell project operating at the private ward of the Joseph N. France General Hospital without his approval and consequently ordered a Brazilian physician, not licensed to work in St. Kitts, off the hospital’s compound.
The letter requesting his leave from work came within 24 hours of that scandalous incident.
Such became a widely debated topic for many people including members of the opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.
Shortly following Dr. Martin’s pre-retirement leave, the hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, was appointed as the Acting CMO before Dr. Hazel Laws took up the post in September 2016.
Now, on Tuesday this week (25th July), Dr. Martin, via a press statement informed that he had received a letter some 11 days before which pushed his scheduled retirement four months early.
“Through your kind auspices, I wish to inform the general public that my retirement from the public service, originally scheduled for November 2017, has been brought forward to Friday 14 July 2017. The instruction to retire “with immediate effect” was received by way of letter delivered to me at my private residence by two police officers at around 330pm that same day,” he disclosed.
The letter was signed by Mrs. Torfrida Rochester, Chief Personnel Officer, Human Resource Management Department, Office of the Prime Minister, according to Dr. Martin who also indicated that “Matters arising are being addressed by my attorneys.”
He added: “The Chief Medical Officer is a very senior post in the public service. As such, significant personnel changes warrant timely public disclosure. Therefore, noting the absence to date of an official statement, I reiterate that I am no longer the substantive holder of the post of Chief Medical Officer of the Federation effective Friday 14 July 2017.”
As a civil servant, Dr. Martin had been working past the mandatory age of retirement set at 55.
In his written address to the media, he expressed that he was honoured to have taken up the post in 2004.
“I was honoured to take up the mantle of CMO in October 2004. This health leadership post is demanding especially in a country with very limited resources. All that was achieved was due entirely to the guidance of and the collaboration with colleagues in population health and clinical medicine, at home and the region.
He continued: “It has been a pleasure and privilege to work within and across departments, sectors and borders to advance health policies, programs and services. The intellectual battles, successes and friendships are treasured memories. Appreciation is extended to the successive governments, ministers of health and officials in national and regional health entities for the opportunities provided to serve my beloved country and region.”
Additionally, Dr. Martin told that he will continue to be available to the media and others on matters of health and development, and related subjects.