Former chief medical officer told to retire ‘with immediate effect’

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Patrick Martin, has indicated that his retirement date has been advanced by four months.

Martin said in a statement Tuesday that the instructions to retire “with immediate effect” was received by way of letter delivered at his private residence by two police officers at around 3:30 p.m. that same day. “The letter was signed by Mrs. Torfrida Rochester, Chief Personnel Officer, Human Resource Management Department, Office of the Prime Minister,” Martin disclosed.

Martin, who was sent on 17 months pre-retirement in 2016, was originally scheduled for a November 2017 retirement, but it has been brought forward to  July 14.

The paediatrician by profession added that matters arising are being addressed by his attorneys and he notes that the CMO is a very senior post in the public service. “As such, significant personnel changes warrant timely public disclosure,” he said. “Therefore, noting the absence to date of an official statement, I reiterate that I am no longer the substantive holder of the post of Chief Medical Officer of the Federation effective Friday 14 July 2017.”

Martin also looked backed at his time in the position and claimed it was an honour to have held the post since 2004.

“This health leadership post is demanding, especially in a country with very limited resources,” he said. “All that was achieved was due entirely to the guidance of and the collaboration with colleagues in population health and clinical medicine, at home and the region. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work within and across departments, sectors and borders to advance health policies, programs and services. The intellectual battles, successes and friendships are treasured memories.“

Martin also thanked the government officials who had confidence in his abilities to serve in the post.

“Appreciation is extended to the successive governments, ministers of health, and officials in national and regional health entities for the opportunities provided to serve my beloved country and region.”

In June 2016, Martin was sent on pre-retirement leave with effect from June 16, 2016. Martin had reached the mandatory retirement age of 55.

A week later in a statement the minister of health, Wendy Phipps, indicated that Martin was aware since October 2015 that he was supposed to leave the post by the end of May 2016.

Dr. Hazel Laws has since taken up the post of CMO since Dr. Martin has been on leave. In his statement, however, he indicated that he will “continue to be available to media and others on matters of health and development, and related subjects.”