The chairwoman of the Bermuda Health Council has resigned for “family and personal professional reasons”.
Alicia Stovell-Washington said that she had to return to her profession full time after the death of her colleague, the eye surgeon Leonard Teye-Botchway.
Dr Stovell-Washington was appointed chairwoman of the health council in October 2017.
Her resignation comes four months after former chief executive Tawanna Wedderburn alleged in a court case that Dr Stovell-Washington interfered with the day-to-day operation of the council, along with David Burt, the Premier, and Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, to push taxpayer-funded payments, to Ewart Brown, the former premier.
Ms Wedderburn made the claims in May as part of an application for judicial review before the Supreme Court as part of her attempt to quash her termination as CEO last December.
She said that the trio’s interference was unlawful “because it was done for the purpose of controlling the council’s policy decisions, and/or facilitating government payments and/or other pecuniary awards to specific Progressive Labour Party supporters, a former premier, at least one Cabinet minister, and/or others”.
A Ministry of Health spokeswoman previously said that the respondents in the case vigorously deny the allegations and are robustly defending themselves in the proceedings, which continued in the courts yesterday.
Dr Stovell-Washington said in a statement released by the Ministry of Health yesterday: “I’m very sad to be stepping down from such a vital organisation as the health council, but my personal circumstances require my full attention elsewhere at this time.
“I must return to my family and my medical practice and advocate for patient care and my own family’s health.
“Following the recent passing of my colleague, Dr Teye-Botchway, my time and attention must be dedicated to assisting with patient care and continuity in every way I can.”
She added: “I am a physician first and foremost, and I must return to my profession full time right now.
“However, I will continue to support the health council and the Ministry of Health in every way I can, particularly at this time of important reforms and a transformation of our health system.”
Ms Wilson said that she was saddened to accept the voluntary resignation.
She said: “It is absolutely evident that the health council grew and evolved during Dr Stovell-Washington’s chairmanship and I’m entirely indebted to her for her dedication, fortitude and immense contribution.
“I know that she leaves the health council stronger than when she took over.
“While I am saddened at the reasons for her need to step down at this time, I’m confident that Dr Stovell-Washington will remain a stalwart of fairness in the health system and will continue to be an advocate and partner in our efforts to make Bermuda healthier.”
The ministry’s statement said that Dr Stovell-Washington had “excelled in her leadership of the board and council”.
It said: “Under her tenure, the health council refocused its strategic direction, increased oversight and regulation of health insurers, continued to improve its healthcare data repository and dissemination, ensured decisions were data-driven and evidence based, enhanced board governance and grew its relationship with local and international partners such as the Pan American Health Organisation.”
Dr Stovell-Washington steps down formally tomorrow. A new chairman will be announced in due course.
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. 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.