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Chairman defends improper hiring practices at SWRHA

The trinidad Guardian / Questions are being raised at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) over the board of director’s involvement in the recruitment process for certain positions.

A member of staff at the SWRHA spoke to the Guardian last week and raised concerns that the Human Resource Committee (HRC) at the authority, which was chaired by a board member, was making selections for non-CEO positions and was favouring specific candidates.

The member of staff said there was a concern that political bias and influence was making its way into the hiring process.

In an interview last week, responding to allegations, chairman of the SWRHA Dr Alexander Sinanan said although there was a board member heading the HR committee, he did not think it was inappropriate.

Sinanan referred to the SWRHA’s HR policy, which he said allowed board members to sit in for interview at certain levels.

He said this was usually for general managers and above.

“Even for specialist medical officers and consultants, at least one board member sits in. I know it is something that happens in other RHAs and I do not think it is inappropriate.”

Interestingly, there were changes last year to the composition of the HR committee.

Sinanan himself was replaced as head of the committee over concerns that the chairman of the board leading the recruitment process for certain positions was improper.

Sinanan said during a corporate governance workshop it was pointed out that the prior composition of the committee may not have been proper and so he recused himself from the committee and was replaced by another board member with industrial relations experience.

While Sinanan said the HR policy provided for board members, through the HR Committee, to sit in on interviews, the process outlined in the document is not being strictly adhered to.

A copy of the SWRHA HR policy indicating the process for hiring executive and middle managers obtained by the Sunday Guardian said all posts should be advertised by the HR department, who would, within a two-week period, short-list applicants.

Only then, would the short-listed applicants be forwarded through the human resources manager to the chief operating officer, who forwards it to the CEO for approval.

Only then should the file be passed to the chairman of the Human Resources Committee.

In reality, candidates for at least three positions advertised on the Ministry of Health website are directed to send resumes directly to the chairman of the HR Committee, who is a board member.

On the website in the careers portal, lists three positions in which applications are directed to be sent directly to the chairman of the HR Committee, while technical officers are directed to send resumes to the HR Department.

These positions include, the chief operating officer, the manager human resources, and a specialist medical officer.

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian, in an interview last week, former finance minister Mariano Browne said other than something being fundamentally wrong at a company, the board should not get involved.

“The board, as a whole, ought not to be involved in the day-to-day running. Only if there is something that threatens the smooth operations of the company.”

Responding to questions about board members being a part of interviews for non-CEO positions, Browne said unless it was a critical management position, that practice should not to be justified.

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