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Daniel Says Dialysis Issue is Political: "We're going to tie it around him"

Hensley Daniel (left) and Mark Brantley

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  Nevis' former Health Minister Hensley Daniel is outraged by current Health Minister Mark Brantley’s suggestion that he had no plan for the operationalization of a two-machine dialysis unit on the island, though he has acknowledged that there was no signed agreement in place when his Nevis Reformation Party left office just over a year ago.

"You're talking to me who spent thirty years planning a range of social projects at community, social and education and telling me that I am going to set up a dialysis unit without a plan...Come on!" He told WINN FM over the weekend.

"Remember all the things he's talking about there, lab and so on, we have a lab in the container you know.  It's a marine container we've retrofitted it, it looks like  a ward of hospital.  That's what it is.  It's ready to go.  It's a situation where we were containing costs, it's going to be hugely more expensive to do what he's doing there."

He asserted that the former NRP Administration had partners lined up to assist with the unit.

"You talking about partners, we had already arranged for us to get the required assistance from the Renal Society the Kidney Center and we were going to go back to the Medical University to help us."

He is dismissing Mr. Brantley’s assertion that there was no arrangement with a facility in the Virgin Islands.

"I was there twice.  I saw the 30 machines, I saw the room which is used to store the reagents....we had already drafted the agreement.

He acknowledged however, that no agreement had been signed with the facility.

"No, no, no.  We had drafted the agreement, but during the elections, with all the election furor we had drafted the main points of the agreement, the legal adviser Mr. Liburd.  We had drafted the agreement...to allow for A Dr. Gardener to come to Nevis as the consultant [nephrologist], we were going to engage him. That we would get a nurse...that was Dr. Gardener's advice to me.  to suggest that I did nothing is offensive you know.  Very, very offensive."

There has been a conversation he clarified, but nothing had been finalized.

"That is true, we had the discussion but it wasn't finalized.  But I couldn't be talking about it unless it was, and we had the conversation.  I'm not that stupid to go mention people who are going to help us and don't do anything...it wasn't concretized yet.  But that's government.  There would obviously be things you haven't finished yet."

He said that the Permanent Secretary had paper work and correspondence in relation to the work that had been done with the dialysis unit, but said that it was for the new Administration to take the arrangement with the St. Croix facility forward.

"You're talking about specifically with the arrangement with St. Croix?  No. So do it.  Go and do it...I couldn't complete everything.  If a government loses office there must be some things that were started but not finished.  I can't take responsibility for everything. But I'm telling you to suggest that we would take up the government's money and spend it without plan is dangerous."

The former Health Minister insists that there is a moral issue at stake in delaying the operationalization of the dialysis machines.

"Mr. Brantley is responding to the pressure from the Nevis Reformation Party and from the people and from the families who continue to lose their loved ones over the non-operationalization of the machines, and to wait for a year to wait to say something is going to be done, and then you couldn't say when," he said.

"A lot of that stuff has to be worked out.  It's six years we were in government.  It took us some time to do too, we know that.  That is why we went with the retrofitting of the marine container.  We recognize in the interest of time, and two machines, one operational and one as the backup.  It must...it must hang around him. We're going to tie it around him.  Any Minister worth their salt cannot watch machines sit there, leave it there, abandon it and go somewhere else."

Mr. Daniel said there was no denying that the issue was political.

"It's a major political issue.  It's done by a politician.  I am a politician.  I don't back away from that.  It's a major political issue...and when the Federal Elections come, the economy is one and the dialysis unit is two.  It is a major issue, because it has to do with public money sitting down in hospital yard for a year, and it has to do with the failure of a Minister to operationalize it.  There's no debate on that.  It's a major political issue and it's not going to go away."

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