BPSU general secretary defends civil servants
The Bermuda Public Services Union has mounted a defence of civil servants, including health regulators accused by Ewart Brown of targeting his medical practice.
Edward Ball, general secretary of the BPSU, said: “The union takes exception to the recent comments made in the public domain by some politicians and others that attempt to give a broad-brush characterisation and spin to denigrate the role and function of officers in civil and public service.”
Mr Ball was speaking after public servants at the Bermuda Health Council were attacked by Dr Brown, the former premier, at a press conference on Wednesday outside his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s.
He was also reacting to criticism after it was announced that the dual-role post of Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, held by Derrick Binns, was to be split into two.
Dr Brown singled out officials at the BHeC, including Jennifer Attride-Stirling, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, who was chief executive officer at the BHeC when charges for treatment were considered.
The clinic announced that it was to close its high-tech, computerised X-ray service at the end of the month because of government-imposed cuts in fees.
Dr Brown told supporters at the press conference: “Remember these names. Jennifer Attride-Stirling, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health. Tawanna Wedderburn, CEO of the health council, and Ricky Braithwaite, so-called health economist”.
He added: “I want you to remember those names.”
Mr Ball said: “Civil servants and public officers are entitled to due process and should never be exposed to the vagaries of a political witch-hunt or campaign of belittlement, defamation and vilification.
“Nor should civil servants and public officers be scapegoated for the purposes of political expediency.”
Dr Brown also highlighted Trevor Moniz, the former attorney-general under the One Bermuda Alliance, and his legal consultant, Richard Ambrosio.
Mr Ball’s defence of public servants came after Dr Binns slammed “unfortunate and inappropriate” remarks about senior public officers this week.
Dr Binns also criticised “remarks and insinuations” made after the decision to split his job into two roles drew a backlash from the Opposition.
He added: “The rules under which public officers are required to work prohibit them from speaking publicly and as a result they are voiceless in the face of public, often unsubstantiated and unwarranted, attacks.”
But he said: “This does not give anyone the right to malign the personal or professional reputation of any public officer.”
Dr Brown told the press conference that, at a 2013 meeting with Ms Attride-Stirling, he was warned that the BHeC aimed to cut healthcare costs and would start with diagnostic imaging.
He added: “I said, Why are you picking on us? And she said, quote, because you are low-hanging fruit.”
One of Brown’s supporters said: “We’ve got to get her.”
Dr Brown added: “And she kept her promise. Kept working, kept working, and finally she found a government, and it’s not the PLP government, she finally found an OBA government that was sympathetic and loved the idea of putting Dr Brown out of business.
“So this time she was able to succeed, and that is what has happened.”
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