The Health Services Authority has made 14 of its security guards redundant, the HSA has confirmed.

The HSA said it was outsourcing its entire security team to the private sector, adding the move was in line with recommendations made in an Ernst & Young report, released in 2014.

In its statement responding to questions from the Cayman Compass, the HSA said, “In keeping with the broad goals of our strategic plan, the HSA has been exploring opportunities to collaborate with the private sector to improve efficiencies, reduce cost and improve our operations, and concentrate more of our resources on our core business to deliver high quality patient care.”

The HSA board took the decision to make the guards redundant, the statement said. The board had previously outsourced the collection of the authority’s bad debts to the private sector, as the EY report had recommended.

The security guards were offered a separation package as part of the redundancy process, the HSA said.

In its statement to the Compass, the authority said it is helping the redundant staffers find new employment either within or outside the HSA, and assisting them with resume writing and professional services,

This is not the HSA’s first brush with controversy connected to its security staff, with earlier issues concerning overime hours. In September this year, the Compass reported that two men were charged with various corruption offences in connection with alleged abuse of overtime by HSA security staff, and in February 2018, about a dozen security staff were placed on required leave during an internal audit investigation into overtime irregularities.
George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan told the Compass that the redundancies are signs of a “hammer slowly tapping at a house with an already weak foundation”.

He added, “I am really disappointed the Cabinet has tried to distance themselves from this most disturbing decision, suggesting it was a board decision, but let’s be clear about the realities; the board is appointed by the current government members and they were well aware of the plan. If they didn’t want this to happen, it wouldn’t happen.”
Bryan said he is worried about the effects the redundancies could have on Caymanian employment.

“I strongly believe this a dangerous precedent to allow. This can have knock-on effects on other authorities. Which authority will be next to do this in the effort to save money?” Bryan asked.

The HSA addressed this issue in its statement. “As part of any arrangement with a contracted security firm, the Authority will mandate certain requirements, as part of the public tendering process, to ensure opportunities are created for Caymanians,” the authority said.