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Wilson acted ‘independently’ on Wedderburn

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No outside influence: Minister of Health Kim Wilson signed off on the departure of Tawanna Wedderburn as chief executive of the Bermuda Health Council (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

No pressure was put on the health minister to sign off on the termination of the Bermuda Health Council chief executive, she insisted yesterday.

Kim Wilson said that her approval of the end of Tawanna Wedderburn’s employment was made without outside influence.

The ministry released a statement after Opposition members called for answers about Ms Wedderburn’s departure from the BHeC.

A spokeswoman said Ms Wilson was told of the “proposed separation” on December 6, 2018, and approved the recommendation, in line with the

Bermuda Health Council Act 2004, the next day.

The statement said: “The minister considered the recommendation and came to a decision independently and without pressure or consideration of unrelated issues.”

It added: “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.”

The statement said Ms Wilson also wanted to emphasise that, because the case related to employment, it would not be discussed through the media.

It added: “This is a matter for the health council to deal with directly with the affected party.”

The statement came after Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the One Bermuda Alliance shadow health minister, said on Tuesday: “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?”

She spoke out after a claim by Ms Wedderburn’s husband, Livingston, that his wife was fired without warning.

Canterbury Law, acting for the health council, said Ms Wedderburn’s termination was legal.

Juliana Snelling, a director of the law firm, added: “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.”

Ms Wedderburn was one of three public servants singled out by Ewart Brown, a doctor and former premier, when he announced the closure of his Brown-Darrell Clinic in Smith’s because of fee cuts.

The BHeC reduced prices for MRI and CT scans in 2017, which included those carried out at the Smith’s clinic and at Dr Brown’s Bermuda Healthcare Services in Paget.

The decision angered Dr Brown, who sent a series of strongly worded e-mails to Ms Wedderburn and other public officials in protest at the cuts, as revealed in a public access to information disclosure by the Ministry of Health last year.

On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Tawanna Wedderburn, the Bermuda Health Council’s former CEO (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)