OBA: ‘Removal Of CEO Should Ring Alarm Bells’

January 30, 2019

[Updated] “The removal of Tawanna Wedderburn as the CEO of the Bermuda Health Council should ring alarm bells,” Shadow Minister of Health Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said, adding that “this is a highly respected professional who was removed from her job without any public explanation.”

Background

In December of last year, the Bermuda Health Council confirmed the “separation of employment” between the Council and its former CEO Tawanna Wedderburn.

Her husband Livingston Wedderburn recently released a letter to the press alleging that “Tawanna was mercilessly fired,” saying that in his view the “timing was clearly of strategic significance judging from the severe pressure to which she was subjected to settle the matter” and that her 12 years’ service to the Council ended with “no prior warning.”

“It will not go unchallenged,” he added. “Limited resources will not prevent access to the courts. A judge will have the final say with the benefit of everyone’s spilled guts. The veil of secrecy is being removed as I write and it will be ripped to shreds until justice prevails.”

We asked the Health Council if Mrs Wedderburn was fired and if so, why was she fired and who made the decision to fire her, and in response they said, “It is not appropriate for the Health Council to comment on matters related to human resources. We thank Mrs Wedderburn for her service and dedication to the Council and to the people of Bermuda during her tenure. As with any change in direction, we understand the request for more specifics, but do ask that the privacy of the persons involved be respected.”

Following Mr Wedderburn’s letter, Juliana Snelling, Director of Canterbury Law, confirmed that “Canterbury Law Limited acts for the BHeC in this matter,” adding that “the former CEO’s employment was terminated lawfully by the Council” and the “Council is prepared to robustly defend any legal proceedings that the former CEO may wish to bring in relation to the separation process which was lawful throughout.”

The Government has confirmed that, “The Minister of Health received notice of the proposed separation on 6th December 2018, and approved the recommendation in accordance with section 9[1] of the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004 on 7th December 2018. As an employment matter the Ministry will not comment further.”

Audio of OBA Leader Craig Cannonier on the matter

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin’s Comments

Ms. Gordon-Pamplin said, “As I have publicly stated previously, the removal of Tawanna Wedderburn as the CEO of the Bermuda Health Council should ring alarm bells. This is a highly respected professional who was removed from her job without any public explanation then, or since.

“That is totally unacceptable and makes me wonder who was behind the decision to remove her from her post.

“In light of the fact that the Minister of Health has been totally silent on this issue, I have to ask: was she pressured into supporting the removal of Ms Wedderburn? There has been no explanation, so what else are we to believe?

“It will be interesting to see who eventually replaces her. I will be watching with great interest to see if they have the same drive and determination as Ms Wedderburn to reduce health care costs which are being driven by the over-utilisation of some services.”

Update 2.12pm: Ministry Makes Additional Statement

A Ministry spokesperson said that the Minister of Health Kim Wilson “wishes to restate her remarks regarding the former Health Council CEO, that as an employment matter, it is not open for discussion through the media. This is a matter for the Health Council to deal with directly with the affected party. The Minister asks that the privacy of individuals be respected.

“As stated previously, the Minister of Health received notice of the proposed separation on 6th December 2018, and approved the recommendation in accordance with section 9(1) of the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004 on 7th December 2018.

“The Minister considered the recommendation and came to a decision independently and without pressure or consideration of unrelated issues.

“As stated by the Health Council’s attorneys, the former CEO’s employment was terminated lawfully by the Council in full compliance with section 18(1)(b) of the Employment Act 2000, the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004, and her contract of employment.

“No further investigation is required as the Minister was apprised of the matter in accordance with the governing legislation and due process was followed.

“As stated previously, the Ministry of Health is grateful to Mrs Wedderburn for the time she served at the Bermuda Health Council and wishes her all the best.”

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