The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) paid out $24 million in sick leave claims at the end of 2016 and Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo has embarked on a mission to remedy the problem.
Speaking at a church service marking the 50th anniversary of the National Insurance Department at the St Michael’s Cathedral yesterday, Byer-Suckoo said she has already begun to petition the island’s medical practitioners to think twice before prescribing sick leave.
“We have begun discussions with the members of the medical fraternity, with the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners to sensitize the medical profession to the impact of prescribing sick leave when other options could be just as effective,” the Minister of Labour said.
She lamented that the large volume of sick leave claims had also created a backlog of “unacceptable delays in processing”, but assured that the NIS would ensure Barbadians received their benefits.
Some 54, 000 people benefited from last year’s sick leave payouts and Byer-Suckoo urged Barbadians to adopt healthier lifestyles to fight off the epidemic of non-communicable diseases, which she suggested, was a major contributor to the number of sickness and disability claims being processed by the National Insurance Department.
“The prevalence of non-communicable diseases continues to be a concern for all of us including us at the National Insurance Department. We have to continue on the path of prevention and it is our individual responsibility to lead healthier lives,” warned Byer Suckoo, who is also a medical doctor.