by Linda Straker
- Backdated contract signed in July 2022 and terminated 31 August 2022
- Grenada Allied Health Council tasked with processing licence applications under Health Practitioner’s Act, No 16 of 2010
- Registered and licenced allied health professionals are published in Government Gazette for public knowledge
Dr Augustine Panchoo, who was terminated from his position as a Clinical Psychologist with the Government of Grenada, was not — according to the Grenada Allied Health Council — licenced and registered to practice in Grenada.
It is unclear if this contributed to the termination of his contract weeks after signing a backdated contract with the Government covering the period 1 April 2021 to March 2022. The contract was signed in July 2022 and terminated as of 31 August 2022. He was compensated in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract.
Under the 2010 Health Practitioner’s Act, enforced in January 2019, the Grenada Allied Health Council is tasked with assessing, approving, or rejecting applications for a licence.
Addressing his termination during a news conference on Monday, 19 September 2022, Dr Panchoo, who is licenced to practice in California, USA, said that he submitted his credentials to the local Council and is awaiting communications. “Yes, I did,” he answered when asked if he submitted his credentials. “I don’t know where it is at,” he added. “I brought in my transcripts, I brought in my diploma.”
Dr Panchoo initially came to Grenada as part of a project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). “The CDB won’t hire me without authenticating my credentials,” he said. “I have worked in the United States for 19 years before coming to Grenada. I teach at graduate school. I teach for 6 graduate school programmes at different universities. I even currently teach for about 3 of them,” he said, providing his professional background.
Dr Panchoo is of the opinion that the Grenada Allied Health Council is not a licencing and registration body. “There is no licencing so don’t use the words loosely. There is a registration registry in Grenada with Allied Health that look at your credentials and verify whether or not you have authentic training. So, there is no licencing body in Grenada,” he said.
However, the Council stated that Dr Panchoo is one of the professionals who is not on the record as submitting his credentials as mandated in law. There is no documentation on the Council file of him seeking to be licenced and registered.
Like the Medical and Dental Council, all allied health professionals who are registered and licenced, receive a registration number and their names are published in the Government Gazette for public knowledge.
According to the law, a person who fails to register and be licenced by the Allied Health Council commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $250,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years. “A person shall not practice as an allied health practitioner in any allied health profession specified in the Schedule or hold himself or herself out to be an allied health practitioner unless the person holds a valid license pursuant to this Part and complies with this Act, the Regulations and the conditions of registration.”
Allied Health Professionals refer to all healthcare professions that are distinct from nursing, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. The registration fee is EC$250 and the licencing fee is EC$350. The licence must be renewed every 3 years.
An allied health worker includes Acupuncturist, Audiologist; Audio metrist; Chiropodist; Chiropractor; Dental Hygienist; Dental Technician; Dietitian; Emergency Medical Technician; Emergency Medical dispatcher; Herbalist; Homeopath; Masseuse; Imaging Technologist; Naturopathist; Optician; Occupational Therapist; Podiatrist; Psychotherapist; Psychologist; Physiotherapist; Reflexologist; EMP Specialist; Speech Therapist; Nutritionist; Massager; Laboratory Technician; X-Ray Technician and Sonographer; Venipuncturist/Phlebotomist and Medical Social Worker.
The Grenada Allied Health Council is a corporate body established pursuant to Section 55 Subsection 2 of the Health Practitioner’s Act, No 16 of 2010. The Council’s primary functions are to: Protect the general public; Promote and uphold high standards of practice; Facilitate continued competency and maintain public confidence in professionals.
Just a glance at the quarrel which surrounds Dr. Panchoo’s subsequent termination, still begs the question as someone asks, how on earth was he allowed to practice in Grenada without the requisite license and registration number that authenticated approval? However, could it have been a genuine error, or did someone deliberately allow him to practice just for friendship’s sake despite being knowledgeable that they are breaking the law under which such medical practice is granted? Furthermore, if the organization authorized by law to grant the license states that they have received an application from Dr. Panchoo, why should someone try to argue that his termination is illegal?
What’s the fuss? Ask the man submit his application. Show that you have given him the opportunity to meet the requirements.
How was he able to work in Grenada?
He was able to work in Gda because anything goes.