GPHC rejects Dr. Karen Cummings’ malicious statement

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s (GPHC) management wishes to emphatically reject the unsubstantiated and disparaging remarks made by the former Minister within the Ministry of Public Health and Honourable Member of Parliament, Dr. Karen Cummings, in the National Budget Debates on Thursday February 3, 2022.

In Dr. Cummings’ statement which the GPHC has confirmed in the Parliamentary Hansard, she alludes to “significant disparities along ethnic lines” within the surgical department and surgical training programme at the GPHC. It is unfortunate that Dr. Cummings has made allegations of racism in the training programme that are jointly delivered by the University of Guyana and the Institute of Health Science Education (IHSE).

In making her remarks, Dr. Cummings specifically identified the post-graduate training programme in surgery. Dr. Cummings failed to recognize that all batches of recruitment for the post-graduate program in surgery since 2015 were done during the period that APNU/AFC was in government and for most of that period Dr. Cummings served as a Minister in the Ministry of Health.

The process for selection for all of the postgraduate programmes offered by the GPHC through the IHSE and UG are solely merit-based on established admission criteria and overseen by a diverse  selection panel which comprises of esteemed personnel from various entities, including the University of Guyana and international partners.

The IHSE/UG operate a competitive surgical programme with a rigorous application process that requires that the applicant satisfy multiple requirements prior to admission. At no stage of this process is information related to the race of the applicant requested or considered by the IHSE, UG or the GPHC.

The GPHC is formally inviting Dr. Cummings to provide us with any evidence she claims to have. The GPHC will investigate any allegations that Dr. Cummings claim to have once those allegations are provided to the GPHC.

Since 2015, the IHSE has admitted a total of 33 successful applicants, including the last intake of six (6) applicants in May 2020 into its postgraduate surgery programme. As stated before, all the recruitment batches and all the successful applicants were during the time Dr. Cummings was a Minister in the Ministry of Health or when she served for a short period as Minister of Foreign Affairs. All the 33 students accepted in the programme occurred while the government in place was led by the party Dr. Cummings now represent in Parliament.  

The GPHC has confidence in the selection process. As far as remuneration is concerned, these are guided by clearly documented Human Resource guidelines that are compliant with Public Service regulations.

The GPHC prides itself in being a diverse team of an exceptional cadre of healthcare professionals which mirrors the composition of our multicultural society. We urge Dr. Cummings, as a fellow healthcare professional, to refrain from repeating unsubstantiated claims and hearsay. When such unsubstantiated statements are made, they have the effect of insulting professionals who have dedicated their professional lives to public service.

We continue to work in service of the nation’s health.


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