CO blames pandemic for failure to respond to OAG

| 14/01/2022 | 72 Comments
Cayman News Service
Pharmacy at Cayman Islands Hospital

(CNS): Acting Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie blamed the impact of the pandemic on the health ministry when it was already short-staffed, as she explained why the ministry had not responded to a report by the Office of the Auditor General that raised significant concerns about the pharmacy services.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee, Pouchie said that the ministry had been “constrained” and “overpowered” by the community transmission of COVID-19, which had prevented it from focusing on anything else, including the OAG’s recommendations outlined in a report published in November.

“Given what we are currently faced with… those constraints have overpowered our ability to provide a timely response in these matters,” she said, as she answered questions about why she had not even acknowledged the report.

“In terms of capacity… that is our real constraint. We have no other choice but to be focused on the overpowering COVID situation that we are dealing with constantly, and we are very hopeful we will not be in this situation forever and we will be able to move ahead with these other important matters,” Pouchie said.

PAC member Kathy Ebanks-Wilks pointed out that the Health Services Authority, which is in the thick of the pandemic, had nevertheless found the time to respond to the report and the 16 recommendations made regarding the numerous problems relating to the pharmacy services. And yet the ministry had not even sent an acknowledgment.

Pouchie said she did not think that comparison could be made as they had different challenges. She then blamed staffing issues at the ministry for making things worse. However, even though the ministry had not responded to the report, the CO confirmed that it accepted the recommendations.

But PAC Chair Roy McTaggart persisted on the question of why the ministry had not found the time to send a response to the OAG.

“I am still struggling to understand why you could not just do that in a timely manner,” he said. “I really struggle with the absence of any sort of acknowledgment or response from the ministry. It’s most unusual,” he added, saying he could not recall a time since he was elected that a ministry had failed to respond at all.

Pouchie apologised and gave a commitment to respond this week to the OAG. But she was unable to say when the ministry would be able to implement the recommendations made, including the draft Pharmacy Replacement Act and policy gaps.

Pouchie said they were already short of technical and policy staff when COViD-19 hit, and despite new hires, other staff members had left. She said COVID was “the screaming emergency issue” that continued to undermine work in all other areas.

The report revealed two failed back-to-back procurement exercises, which aimed to secure essential medicines and establish a system to control the quality and safety of drugs. This called into question whether the HSA was able to deliver efficient and effective pharmacy services during a global pandemic.

The audit found that the hospital’s pharmacy is short on space, staff and oversight. It has no code of standards for pharmacy employees and lacks a general policy and strategic direction.

Pouchie also admitted that little progress had been made on developing an overall national healthcare strategy, again blaming the pandemic and the community transmission that “went pretty massive”. She said this had also sidetracked the ministry from all policy development.

See the CO appear before PAC on CIGTV below:

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Category: Government oversight, Health, Politics

Comments (72)

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  1. Caymanz says:

    And here we are with Lizzette making over 259k CI, Ronnie over 200k CI, Nellie over 150k CI and Minister over 170k CI.

    Handsome pays. Who doing the wuk???

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Peter Principle firmly in evidence here in this ministry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This gal is obviously in way over her head with no accountability using Covid as her default answer. The real question though is, what’s Sabrina going to do about this mess? Nothing has been done since this surfaced last year. A good first step would be to bring in Walgreens or CVS

    • Anonymous says:

      What Sabrina is going to do? She has shown us since Election what she is going to do. I actually feel sorry for Ms. Pouchie- instead of she the Minister should be in the hot seat! Ms. Poichie and other chief officers are left between a rock and a hard place. Cayman has regressed 30 years since election . I wonder if The Past Premier took notes that he could assist this PACK with?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Give me a break. We didn’t have Covid for over a year and how many civil services just went by the wayside and didn’t do a damn bit of their job? DVDL, WORC, the pharmacy etc. Private pharmacies didn’t have this problem. Hsa is a joke and I wouldn’t trust them to open my pill bottle let alone fill it. The civil service as a whole is completely inept. Plenty of good individuals in there doing their best but the overall system is junk. It starts with the top and the leadership. Too many “leaders” here wouldn’t know true leadership if it fell out the sky and hit them in the head. Look at the schools…look at this nonsense with HSA…look at CIMA…pick a service. All junk. Smfh

    • Anonymous says:

      11:11 for godness sake calm down something is going to burst. Most of the entities you mentioned are not even part of our world class civil service.

      I licensed my car online in 10 minutes. Kinda world class to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can the police quickly search the database and know with a very high degree of confidence that you own that particular car? Will the system tell them where you live, and how to contact you? Do the expensive new license plates that we spent millions on correctly read where it is? If you are caught speeding, can the system be efficiently used to send you a ticket? If you abandon it by the side of the road, will DEH be able to prosecute you, or even have you pay for its removal? No on all counts.

    • Anonymous says:

      All the ministries, authorities, departments, commissions, boards, ministers, CEOs, COs, directors, deputies, acting thises and thats, are all designed to provide salaries without actual responsibility. You imported a full-scale British national bureaucracy even though the population is town-sized. It is never possible to get to the bottom of anything because you have all these chiefs but nobody is actually working.

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought that the HSA was being operated well considering the transfer of their Chief Nursing Officer to Public Health. Now we have both HSA and Public Health running on empty!

    • Anon says:

      Correct. The problem lies within the cultural acceptance of ineptitude. There is no question this lady is incapable in her job. The real question is, will Turner do her job and relieve the incompetent lady from her role? Everyone already knows the answer to this. And this is why, no matter what CIG do, the private sector will not employ Caymanians. The cultural acceptance of incompetence and the entitled personality trait that derives from that is the problem. The minute people who plainly can’t do their jobs get held accountable is the moment Caymanians will start to be forced to do their jobs properly or get the sack. Then a cultural shift will happen and maybe, just maybe, expat employers will have more confidence in Caymanian talent. It starts at the top. Over to you Mrs Turner.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is true of Civil Servants everywhere. UK short of truck drivers which causes shortages of needed supplies but they can’t get their licenses renewed because UK DVDL won’t go back into the office.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Something doesn’t add up here. Although Pouchie is the CO the CEO Yearwood of HSA would be in the loop. HSA is governed by a board and are responsible for enacting policy. If the board could not carry out the recommendations due to the ministry’s lack of oversight then that is another matter.
    This story doesn’t connect all the dots for me but it would appear that there is a lack of accountability from many.
    It is unfortunate that important recommendations from the OAG have been ignored but not surprising as boards are comprised of political cronies who lack the knowledge to enact recommendations or simply drop the ball as there is no accountability to implement them. It is easier to change board members.

    • Anonymous says:

      All the bureaucrats are there for a reason, and that reason is not about accountability, much less a days work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t try to compare Lizzette with Nellie, anyone who knows Lizzette knows there is no comparison between the two, at least she didn’t go down there and blame COVID

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excuses. Real answer is incompetence

  7. Truth says:

    Accountability and it’s rewards will never be found here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Franz Manderson, Deputy Governor and Head of the Civil Service, please realize that you are a joke, your “world-class” hype is a joke and quite frankly, NO ONE is laughing!!

    Under your “leadership”, the Civil Service is an embarrassment to Cayman!

    Franz is another product of “progress by association & favour”, no skills there!

    • Anonymous says:

      The standards he finds acceptable are atrocious. These so called servants of the people are exercising tyrannical rule over us. That are causing real harm. This is literally unsustainable, and it is systemic.

    • JM says:

      5:36 you are the joke! You can’t be serious?

      You must be living in a cave in Afghanistan with poor Internet access which is available once every 10 years if you don’t know of the many improvements our DG and his team has accomplished.

      Quite frankly I don’t understand why the Chief Officer would be asked to respond to the AG recommendations in the middle or a Pandemic.

      Get out of the darkness and enjoy the freedom and protection of our Civil Service.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hahahaha rose coloured glasses anybody.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman cave!

      • Anonymous says:

        Please name 3 things that have been accomplished under Franz.

        • Anonymous says:

          1. Eric went cycling in Monaco.
          2. Every single cruise port objector’s signature got verified.
          3. DG 5K.

        • Proudcivilservant says:

          7:08. You really must be in a cave.

          It would take me the rest of the night to list the accomplishments.

          You are in complete denial.

          The fact that you are alive today is one of his accomplishments.

        • Anonymous says:

          7:08 stop the jealousy. I guess the DG had to hold you accountable.

          Posting rubbish won’t help.

        • Anonymous says:

          15 @ 7:08 pm – Some awards, more awards, even more awards – all for mediocre performance of what they are already being paid to do! That’s about all Franz has done! Where’re the improvements in the CS?

          Oh, my bad, I apologize. I forgot the most important thing he’s done.

          He’s boasted a lot about his non-achievements and bo-bo awards program!

    • Real world says:

      5:36. I am really worried about your sanity. You may wish to visit the mental health ward.

      First… A World Class Civil Service is a Vision!

      I don’t have time to explain what a Vision statement is but you can Google it. Google is a search engine where you get obtain information.

      Oh by the way while you are learning about a Vision statement you can also Google

      Portfolio of the Cayman Islands wins international peoples award

      Department of Commerce and Investment attains gold investor in people award

      Cayman islands Government wins international award for field hospital.

      Public accounts Committee award civil service for accounting standards

      Just a few of the world class achievements.

      Get a life dummy. Look that up too.

      • Say it like it is says:

        12.44pm How about a “vision” that civil servants answer their telephones and return messages – it is not civil to ignore the public you serve and who pay you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s all pray for 5:36.

    • Anonymous says:

      5:36. A tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing!

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said 5:36! I wish I could give you a million thumbs up! Franz and his world class failure as a leader is glaringly obvious and as long as he remains in that position nothing will improve. The man is incapable.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Slacker Civil Servants have found a God-send in covid! Excuses, excuses!

  10. Oh boy says:

    And guess what? The Health Minister confirmed Nellie who is a CPA and CFO AS THE CHIEF OFFICER for the ministry.

    What a tangled web we weave.

  11. Angus says:

    Why would the auditor general not understand that the Ministry would be consumed with COVID-19 related work?

    Pharmacy response or keeping people alive….guess the Chief Officer went with the latter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please do tell us what drug dispensed by the pharmacy treats Covid? We could make Billions and get a Nobel prize.

      And we were ready, remember?

      • Anonymous - DO NOT TAKE IVERMECTIN says:

        @ 11:49 AM

        I know for a FACT that the horse medicine ‘Ivermectin’ is being distributed at XXXX Pharmacy as a COVID-19 treatable medicine. Dr. XXXX is writing the prescriptions. In my humble opinion, both the pharmacy owners & Dr. XXXX need to be held liable as Ivermectin is a medicine for HORSES!! and can kill a human if taken at lethal doses. If anybody is naive enough to take this, they will have blood on their hands.

        CNS: Sorry, but I do not know for a fact that the doctor you mentioned is prescribing this or that the pharmacy is distributing it, though I suspect that you are right. However, I’m 100% sure that what is being prescribed and collected from the pharmacy is ivermectin formulated for humans, which is not lethal and is commonly given to people as an anti-parasitic drug. Its discoverers were even given the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2015. Read more here. The problem arose after it began to be promoted as a treatment for covid, when some people started self-medicating with ivermectin specifically formulated for horses and cattle, which can be lethal. Hence the rather forceful campaign to tell people not to do this.

        To read more on ivermectin to treat or prevent covid, here’s a recent article in the LA Times: A new study calculates the incredible cost of ivermectin stupidity
        Read more on the FDA website: Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19
        Or the BBC: Ivermectin: How false science created a Covid ‘miracle’ drug

  12. Anonymous says:

    Auditor General should investigate if CIG pharmacy purchases medications from India and sells them at US prices. It may or may not be legal depending on the particular drug.

    Pharma companies price products differently based on the market. For example cost of antibiotics in India are only 10% of the cost of same drug in the US.

    There is also a question about the legality of such practice – as they breach intellectual property law. Many drugs in India are specifically labeled for sale in India only….so such labeled products are sold illegally in Cayman. CIG cannot breach international IP conventions that have been extended to Cayman.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t our now premier stated not to panic everything is under control? It don’t seems so does it? Now we are down to weekly reporting?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Covid is everyones get out of jail card. Time to stop using it as an excuse not to do your job.

    The problems with the Pharmacy were highlighted in a previous AG report long before Covid 19 and nothing was done to address the issues.

  15. Elvis says:

    To be honest it was hard to get anything done the last two years if the truth be told

  16. Anonymous says:

    She’s obviously pouched and needs to be relegated. To blame inaction on Covid is a lame excuse.

  17. Anonymous says:

    She always has excuses and never produces. When she was the CFO all she had was excuses for not even submitting accounts timely. Now she’s acting CO and the same continues but yet she keeps being “awarded” for work. She obviously couldn’t perform as CFO and now acting CO. She is also the main reason why staff leave the Ministry or why no person of sound mind wants to apply there. Let’s not even start on the Minister!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand how exactly covid affected the Ministry.

    • Truth says:

      Looks like they have a useless HSA Board too. Come on PACT get them off their backsides all a dem . They need some “ Hurry” medicine it seem huh!

    • Anonymous says:

      5:41 you are kidding right. You really don’t believe that a Pandemic affected the Ministry of Health.

      Who was responsible for all of the polices, processes, procedures, strategies that were deployed during our fight against covid-19? Guess you think it was the Ministry of Tourism? Zzzzzzz

      Most of you would cracked long time ago if you had to carry the weight of the Chief Officer.

      • Anonymous says:

        LOL UK, England Health, CDC, Governor were responsible. Would say the people were more affected by the then Minister of Health’s multilingual preaching words of non wisdom.

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a pouch of excuses. All that salary and what do you actually do all day?

  20. Gray Matter says:


    • Anonymous says:

      And replace them with who? No one I guess. Not getting anything done anyway. The education system used to, maybe still does, pass people for attendance. So you could have done nothing in school but show up and graduate. This is the type of people running the civil service now. They are horrible to deal with. Rude and stupid. Yes stupid. A product of getting away with everything all the time.

  21. Anonymous says:

    World Class civil service……oh my aching sides!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Not responding and ducking is the standard approach from “leadership” in this Ministry. There is just no accountability anywhere. Seems the Minister has also caught this dirty habit too.

    • Anonymous says:

      we have a health minister that doesn’t know a damn thing about health was paid off to go to the other side. do you expect better. We have a tourism minister that can’t travel overseas due to having a criminal record

      And we wonder why we have problems

  23. Anonymous says:

    Whoa there Nellie.

    You told the public you were ready for Covid, didn’t you? Isn’t that what the whole “ready to reopen safely” madness was based on?

    How come the private sector is able to function in face of the same challenges? A same private sector that is willing to give you time, assistance and expertise for free.

    The pharmacy business should be handed over to private enterprise. We will never get accountability or value for money otherwise. This crap literally costs lives.


    • Anonymous says:

      Not ready. Not safe. 13 dead since they told us they were ready, and it was safe. No accountability.

      • Anonymous says:

        To be fair, I also remember them saying it would be dangerous for the unvaccinated , and pleading with them to get vaccinated. So how many of the dead and the hospitalized were vaccinated, hmmm?

    • Anon says:

      Didn’t I read it recently that gov’t was thinking of nationalizing Cayman’s healthcare system? Private medical practise has been a reprieve all these years. I can’t imagine how things wohld go well here with a nationalized healthcare system. Sounds like someone’s quest to make gov’t bigger, get more “revenue” and more control. Country would be better off fully privatizing medicine.

  24. Anonymous says:


    She sure it wasn’t Ivan fault?

  25. Anonymous says:

    COVID, COVID, COVID… and the dog ate my homework. I am not buying any of this. The ministry is top heavy and an external entity should be contracted undertake a structural review so that the government can make the changes that are needed to replace the waste at the top with middle level competent industry experts that can do the work that needs to be done. Apologies without accountability are meaningless. Where is the accountability?

    • Anonymous says:

      Good luck getting through the dead wood called Caymanians. Tow the party line bobo or you end up on the next banana boat out of here.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Not even the courtesy to acknowledge and explain. Not good leadership

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