10 September 2009

Oram and Williams give wildly contradictory accounts of Lewisporte decision

As a sharp-eared reader picked up, the raw video of the Premier’s scrum revealed that Lewisporte MHA Wade Verge knew about cuts to health service in his district some time before July 9, 2009.

That’s the day Premier Danny Williams shuffled Ross Wiseman out of health and moved Paul Oram in.

The decision wasn’t announced until August 31, almost two months later.  And even then, some people claim,  the wording of the news release didn’t make plain what was happening in the affected communities.

The regional health authorities involved didn’t hear about the changes until the morning they were announced.

But even that is now at odds with comments by health minister Paul Oram.  Under questioning in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Oram said the decision was made after a trip he made to the region to discuss the issue with local officials:

The fact is that this decision was made during discussions, Mr. Speaker, with Central Health and Community Services, also with discussions that we had ongoing with the community. The fact of the matter is, we went out to Lewisporte, and we told them very clearly that this facility would not be built or put inside of the new facility. We would not have X-ray and lab inside of the new facility. That is exactly what we told them, Mr. Speaker. They understood where we were coming from and we moved forward on that basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Isn’t it true that you told the people in Lewisporte at that time that there would not be a one-roof concept for lab and X-ray services, but you did not tell them you were prepared to gut their service within two weeks, did you?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ORAM: Mr. Speaker, I said exactly what I said, and that was that there would be no laboratory and X-ray services under the one roof in the new facility that we were building in Lewisporte. In terms of –

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. ORAM: - if she would let me answer. In terms of a discussion around what was happening with closing out the lab and X-ray part of what we were doing in Lewisporte, that discussion was had but there was no final decision made on that when I was out in Lewisporte.

Either the Premier has his story shagged up or Oram does.

Which is it?