Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh will be taking immediate steps to make regulations to temporarily extend the life of the practising certificates of pharmacists across T&T.
The certificates for pharmacists expired on Saturday due to a dispute with the Pharmacy Board of TT over an increase in annual fees.
The health ministry, via a release, claimed that the extension would give the ministry time to engage in consultations with the board on “measures required to ensure that the current situation is avoided in the future.”
The release said: “The Ministry assures the public that all steps are being taken to ensure that the system of health care in the country is not compromised by the council’s failure to issue renewal practising certificates for the period January 15, 2023, to January 14, 2023.”
The ministry acknowledged concerns expressed by the public and civil organisations over the board’s handling of the situation.
“The Ministry has attempted, through correspondence by its attorneys, to obtain from the council of the Pharmacy Board its undertaking and agreement to comply with the law under the Pharmacy Board Act and, to issue the renewal practising certificates,” it said.
“To date, the council of the Pharmacy Board has refused to give the requested undertakings,” it added.
In the legal letter sent by the ministry’s lawyer Vishma Jaisingh to long-serving Pharmacy Board president Andrew Rahaman and its registrar Suann Joseph on Friday, the ministry challenged the board’s move to introduce a $600 fee to expedite the renewal process instead of the traditional $150 annual renewal fee.
Jaisingh also claimed that Joseph accepted the original fee from some members seeking renewal.
The ministry claimed that the move was illegal, as it was contrary to the Pharmacy Board Act, which states that the fees for such renewals would be set in official regulations.
Prior to the ministry’s legal stance, the Pharmaceutical Society of T&T, a voluntary organisation of pharmacists, explained that they were willing to discuss a potential change in the fee, but only if the proper process is followed by the board and its finances are audited.