Alleging that they are working in a “hellhole” where they are ill-treated by management and threatened with suspension when they speak out, nurses at the state-run Psychiatric Hospital are pleading for better working conditions and more respect.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity for fear of victimization, a spokesperson for the employees said working conditions were now “dread” and they were frustrated.
“The hospital is very understaffed. Staff on wards are working four days a week and they have put a halt to lieu days, so now the nurses are burned out,” said the health official.
“Staff are fed up of working hard and being treated like slaves and talked down to . . . .The nurses at the Psychiatric Hospital are working in a hellhole . . . . We need an ease. Staff are being threatened and in some instances suspended from work when they have to stand up against the bad treatment,” the spokesperson added, emphasizing the “unsatisfactory” state of the working conditions.
The nurses also complained about not receiving uniforms in over seven years, being overlooked for training, and going long periods without being paid.
“Some staff have not been receiving salary for months and are being told that until acting officers receive their acting salary, they cannot receive theirs,” the spokesperson contended, adding that efforts by the trade union to meet with management on the workers’ grievances have so far proven futile.
Their complaints do not end there, however.
According to the nurses, lack of medical supplies and challenges with patients also feature on their list of grievances.
“It is bad enough that we are working under dread circumstances. We also at times have little or no medication to work with . . . . We often face injury on the job due to aggressive clients…and management has no pity or remorse for us,” the spokesperson lamented.
Barbados TODAY was also informed that the infirmary ward was rundown and employees were working in substandard conditions that include poor bathroom facilities. The spokesperson said staff also frequently fell ill.
When Barbados TODAY provided Director of the Psychiatric Hospital David Leacock with a list of the nurses’ grievances and claims, his only official response was “no comment.”
The allegations by the nurses came just days after Psychiatric Hospital Nursing Assistant Curtis Grimes claimed “unfair treatment” as well as “wrongful” detention by authorities at the Black Rock mental health institution last month. Grimes, who has been working at the hospital for the past 11 years, told Barbados TODAY he has retained attorney-at-law David Comissiong as his legal counsel and he is now threatening to sue the institution.
Leacock had also refused to comment on that matter, saying that “if Mr Grimes himself in anyway chose to share the information with you, that is his right as a citizen, but we in turn can’t divulge any information.”