Month passes, no ruling on permit tests

The question of which Cayman Islands medical clinics can perform required blood tests for work permit holders has been left lingering, more than a month after a controversial decision by the local Health Practice Council. 

An earlier announcement from government indicated that HIV/AIDS blood tests required for work permit purposes could only be obtained from seven medical labs, six in Grand Cayman and one in Cayman Brac.  

The seven labs are Cayman Islands Hospital, Faith Hospital, Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital, Medlab, Cayman Health, Phoenix Laboratory and TrinCay Medical.  

Members of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society said last month that they were neither consulted nor informed of the change in government policy following the Health Practice Commission’s decision. Members indicated that they learned about the change from the Caymanian Compass, which printed the government’s announcement about it.  

Pending a resolution from government concerning which facilities can conduct blood tests for work permit applicants, it was later agreed in the interim to allow all qualified doctors to perform the tests.  

Members of the medical society confirmed Monday that they had received no further communication regarding the issue since mid-November.  

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said she was awaiting a final decision on the issue from Premier Alden McLaughlin’s office.  

The reason for the initial change appeared to be that some health clinics were using test kits rather than submitting the blood for a full lab analysis, according to Health Practice Commission deputy chairman Marc Lockhart.  

Dr. Lockhart said that was not the case with all clinics, and that the commission’s decision was no reflection on the professionalism of the health clinics. Rather, he said, the commission was keen to observe a professional standard in administering the tests to work permit holders.  

“There are certain labs that have not been licensed to provide certain types of tests on the island,” Dr. Lockhart said. “In terms of keeping the quality … it is best to keep that standard with the established labs on the islands.”  

The Cayman Islands requires non-Caymanian workers to be tested for HIV/AIDS prior to obtaining a work permit in the islands.