Skip to main content

Medical Officer, Grenada (Dismissal)

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

27, 28 and 29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) for what reason, Dr. Walter Hughes, a native of Grenada, British West Indies, now residing at Ebro, Ontario, Canada, until recently holding by appointment a medical post as District Medical Officer in Grenada. has been dismissed from the Colonial Medical Service; whether there was a local inquiry into his conduct before his dismissal; whether he had and exercised any right of appeal to the Secretary of State; and if, in view of the importance of this case in the Colonial Medical Service, he will make a statement on the case;

(2) whether he is aware that Dr. Walter Hughes, of Ebro, Ontario, Canada, who was recently dismissed from the Colonial Medical Service in Grenada, is not listed as a registered qualified general practitioner in the latest Legal Register, 1947, compiled by the General Medical Council of Great Britain; whether he was employed in the Colonial Medical Service only on his Canadian qualification and registration; if this is the present usual procedure; and whether this doctor, a native of Grenada, had been granted a scholarship out of the revenues of this Colony to enable him to qualify in medicine.

(3) whether reports submitted by Dr. Walter Hughes, formerly a district medical officer in Grenada, British West Indies, during his employment on the health services of this Colony, and of his particular medical district in the island received careful consideration from the local government and its medical advisers, and especially at any local medical inquiry; and whether the report of the whole proceedings in connection with this medical officer's appointment and retirement will be placed in the Library of this House.

In view of the allegations made by this man in a British newspaper I have prepared a full statement on the case in answer to these Questions, and, with my hon. Friend's permission, will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear in the interests of the Colonial Medical Service in the West Indies, that this poor medical graduate with his malignant idiosyncrasies has unfairly and untruthfully attacked the medical personnel in this island, and that the publicity given to his mendacious report was most unjustified and malicious?

I accept most of what my hon. Friend has said and I hope the reply I have given him will receive wide notice.

Following is the reply:

Dr. Hughes was never a member of the Colonial Medical Service. He was engaged as a district medical officer by the Government of Grenada on an agreement on one year's probation, in October, 1946. Early this year the Citizens' Association of the district in which he worked made complaints about him, and elected Members of the Legislative Council made representations expressing dissatisfaction with his behaviour towards the public. There was no formal inquiry, but investigations were made by the Acting Head of the Medical Department.

In March, 1947, the Governor of the Windward Islands, acting upon the advice of the Executive Council, terminated Dr. Hughes' appointment, granting him a passage back to Canada and the leave to which his service entitled him. I confirmed the Governor's action, which in my view was justified since Dr. Hughes had shown himself to be temperamentally unsuited for the Service. Dr. Hughes made no appeal to me against the decision.

Dr. Hughes is not registered as a qualified general practitioner by the General Medical Council of Great Britain. He is a Doctor of Medicine of the University of Western Ontario and Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada. He was registered locally in accordance with a special decision of the Executive Council under Section 6 ( c) of the Grenada Medical and Dentists Registration Ordinance. The qualification would not normally be registrable in Grenada. Appointments to the permanent and pensionable establishment are made only in the case' of practitioners who hold medical qualifications registrable in the United Kingdom.

I understand that before his engagement Dr. Hughes, although born in Grenada, had resided for some 20 years in Canada; he has never received a scholarship from the Government of Greneda for medical training.

I have received no information to the effect that Dr. Hughes submitted any reports to the Government of Grenada. Certain local conditions of which he complained at the time when he was employed as a district medical officer received careful consideration from the local Government, and Dr. Hughes was afforded a personal interview with the Administrator.

I am expecting a further communication from the Acting Governor, and on its receipt will communicate further with my hon. Friend.

As regards medical conditions in Grenada it has unfortunately been the case that there have been shortages of drugs and equipment due to the world-wide wartime difficulties of obtaining supplies, but the allegations made regarding the inefficiency of the administration are either false or exaggerated misrepresentations. The facilities available are generally similar to those of other small Colonies, and it is the constant endeavour of the local administration to improve them.