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Prof Burke withdraws complaints against GHA

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Former Head of Clinical Governance, Derek Burke, has withdrawn his complaints and allegations against the Gibraltar Health Authority after he raised serious concerns about patient safety and healthcare management.
But on Thursday Professor Burke apologised for his previous statements, many of which were laid on emails to GHA doctors, in a press statement issued by the Gibraltar Government.
He recognised that many of the issues he had highlighted, had been addressed by the Government during time of his ill health and after his departure.
Professor Burke had served as Head of Clinical Governance for four years, until his retirement in July 2021, but in the months prior to his departure he was on extended sickness leave.
In particular the electronic document management system (eDMS), described by the Government as a cornerstone, which will provide an electronic record, patient tracking system for cancer referrals and diabetes management, is set to transform the services offered by the GHA.
Professor Burke said, with the commencement of the eDMS project the GHA has set its compass in the right direction.
He added the GHA is now on a journey that will benefit the health and well-being of the people of Gibraltar.
“I am sad that due my ill health I have not been able to contribute to these projects, but I wish the GHA well on its journey,” Professor Burke said.
“I believe that it would be wrong for the professional development aspects of the work that needs to be done in the GHA to become the subject of party-political witch-hunts which will impede progress.”
“With the information I now have I am satisfied that, under the leadership of Minister Sacramento, with whom I enjoyed a very positive working relationship, progress will be made by the Health Ministry in addressing the issues I originally identified.”
“Finally, I am sorry if any publication by me of my concerns has caused alarm to the public in Gibraltar and regret if anything I have said about the people of Gibraltar as a whole and their future caused offence; that was not my intention.”
Professors Burke’s ill health meant he was not up to date with progress on the eDMS, cardiac catheter lab, or the mental health transformation projects amongst others.
“His concerns were based on his assumption that nothing was being done when in fact the opposite is true,” the Government said.
The Government added it has been pointed out to Professor Burke that his disclosures were outside of the remit of his contract and breached his obligations to the GHA and its patients.
The Government also recognised all health care systems have patient safety issues, even the best, adding the concern is not the problems, but rather how they are dealt with when identified.
“Like all health care systems, the GHA has its problems, but it is committed to identifying and addressing them,” a statement from No6 Convent Place said.
The commitment to transform GHA services began in 2018, the Government said, but was interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the time Chief Minister Fabian Picardo received the strategy from Professor Burke, and was committed to using it as the basis of a transformation strategy for the GHA going forward.
Then came the cabinet reshuffle and Samantha Sacramento was appointed as the new health minister with the remit to implement the transformation programme, again this was put on hold due to the second wave of Covid-19 in Gibraltar.
The transformation programme is tipped to change the GHA’s management structure, which the Government said will invariably be disruptive to the organisation for a period of time until the new structure is embedded.
“But the GHA is confident that the new structure will manage both the operational and transformational components going forward.”
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the transformation programme marked an exciting time for Gibraltar and the GHA can look forward to providing NHS standards, with many of the services the GHA has previously had to send to Spain and the UK being repatriated to Gibraltar
“A lot of work is being done in the GHA and a lot of more work will have to be done to achieve the year on year improvements we all expect in this key area of policy,” Mr Picardo said.
“In the very difficult Covid period the GHA has continued to build on the services it has provided to date.”

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