An action plan to tackle security arrangements at the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic has emerged from a two-hour meeting with disgruntled nurses led by Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.
But the clinic is to remain closed until Monday amid protest over working conditions and security arrangements in the wake of three violent incidents.
Around 10:50 a.m, Lieutenant Colonel Bostic, joined Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George, the president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Denis Depeiza, and officials of the National Union of Public Workers to meet with the nurses for just over two hours.
Echoes of applause could be heard as the meeting ended, apparently signalling agreement had been reached with the nurses who have endured incidents in which assailants used rocks, chairs and a knife.
A Barbados TODAY team was told the meeting was private and media were barred from entering the building where a sign pointed to the clinic’s closure today.
CTUSAB President Denis Depeiza told Barbados TODAY that the matter of safety and security was addressed as Bostic conducted a walk-through of the institution.
Depeiza said: “We have looked at the number of issues impacting both on safety, security as well as the wellbeing of the staff and the users of the facility and those matters are going to be the subject of discussion and an action plan.
The labour leader said he was representing the Barbados Nurses Association. Saying he was not at liberty to speak on the action plan which was created at the meeting. He said he was there to speak to the nurses affected so that the union could plan their course of action.
“While we are now going through the routine of speaking to the staff so that the unions can make a firm decision as to how to move forward as soon as all the matters have been fully aired and ventilated.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George remained tight-lipped about the meeting, saying only he would speak to the media at a later date about its outcome.
A press release by Government Information Service said the Jemmott’s Lane polyclinic is to remain closed until Monday for “industrial cleaning”.
“The Minister assured the workers that he would be doing all in his power to ensure their safety and the upgrades would begin over the next three days,” the statement read.
Bostic was quoted as telling the staff that their safety was of paramount concern to him and the Government “would be increasing security cameras from 16 to 28 along with improved lighting. Another step that will be taken is the installation of electronic access and panic buttons, as well as metal detectors to ensure that illegal weapons are not brought into the polyclinic”
The MP for The City of Bridgetown also said in the statement that there will be discussions with the Royal Barbados Police Force and Barbados Defence Force “tomorrow to look at all of the issues and to identify some of the steps to be taken. One of which is for random patrols to be done on the compound on a daily basis”.
The assurance was an apparent response to nurse’s demands for police protection at the clinic.
The Minister of Health and Wellness warned the public that if the bad behavior continued repeat offenders could find themselves being banned from the polyclinic.
The statement said the minister would fully ventilate the issue in his contribution to the budget debate in Parliament on Friday.
The Government release directed residents in the closed clinic’s catchment area who need their prescriptions filled to go to the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic in Wildey.