Workers at polyclinic in Barbados are under threat from increased physical and verbal attacks, according to Minister of Health John Boyce.
However, Boyce today announced that security measures were bring put in place to ensure the safety of staff.
Singling out the Brandford Taitt Polyclinic in Black Rock, St Michael, Boyce said it was “the most vulnerable facility to this type of violence”, adding that “several measures” had been implemented to combat this challenge, including increased security and police presence.
“One of the things we have had to include in the Estimates for 2018-19 has been an intensive effort to improve the security provisions at our polyclinics, and we are starting with the Branford Taitt Polyclinic because of the increase incidents of threats and violence associated with persons attending these clinics, to the extent that it is impacting very negatively on our staff members, and the truth is that in recent years the verbal and physical abuse towards polyclinic staff have become more frequent,” he said in his contribution to the debate on the 2018-19 Estimates.
The Ministry of Health has been allocated $329.7 million in the 2018-19 Estimates, down slightly from $332.5 million in the Revised Estimates for 2017-18. The Brandford Taitt Polyclinic has been allocated $3.1 million, up from the $2.9 million in the Revised Estimates 2017-18.
Boyce said the 2018-19 allocation included funds for handheld radios, public address systems, and panic buttons for staff members.
“These 2018-19 Estimates include funds to deal with this. We have also put in place not only at [the Brandford Taitt] polyclinic, but generally over the polyclinic, a mechanism to control the flow of patients,” the minister said.
Boyce said the security concerns had prompted the authorities to consider restricting the number of people who would be allowed to accompany patients visiting the doctors or sitting in the waiting rooms.
“It may slow up things, it may reduce the number of persons being seen every day in the polyclinics consistently, but these are the kinds of measures being contemplated and which I will have to support so that the threats to our caregivers are not sustained and that they can go to work in absolute comfort as we have become accustomed,” he said.
Boyce also revealed that his ministry was working on “a draft violent policy” that had already been shared with stakeholders, details of which would be “dealt with over the next couple of months”.