Deplorable working conditions and numerous outstanding issues at the Psychiatric Hospital drove unhappy members of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to call in its executive board for an urgent tour of the facility today.
After touring the Black Rock institution around 3 p.m., recently appointed NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY that from what he saw during the hour-long tour, he would be requesting an official meeting with the hospital’s Director (Ag) David Leacock to discuss outstanding concerns as soon as possible.
McDowall refrained from speaking about the matters. However, reliable sources told Barbados TODAY that poor working conditions, including termite and fungus infestation of the roof, poor management, shortage of medication and supplies, supersession, a lack of staff appointments for the last ten years and overcrowding, were among major issues.
This morning, Acting Minister of Health Michael Lashley toured the hospital with top officials from the ministry and management of the institution. According to Leacock, Lashley visited the hospital to familiarize himself with the facility and staff as he acted in the capacity.
Meanwhile, McDowall said the focus of the proposed meeting with the director would be on maintaining a cordial relationship with management. However, the recently appointed NUPW president stressed that based on what he witnessed, along with the issues drawn to his attention, he understood why staff members were uncomfortable in their working environment.
“I don’t want to go into any details,” he said.
“But I think it is fair that we must give the director a chance to explain himself and then we can always report back to the media. It would be unfair for us to really speak to you before we give him a chance.
“This is a new executive and we do have a relationship with [management], but that relationship does not mean that the concerns of our members are not being addressed. This executive has a loyalty only to the membership,” McDowall stressed.
Earlier this month, Opposition Member of Parliament for Christ Church West, Dr. Maria Agard, while contributing to debate in the House of Assembly on the Health Services (Amendment) Bill, voiced concerns about conditions at the Psychiatric Hospital.
“It is unacceptable,” she said. “ . . . . I think that a word must go out to our state facility, that it really must do better, even under these very harsh economic circumstances.”