There will now be only one and not the promised two 24-hour clinics when the Government makes another attempt for a start to the service on July 1.
After a month of back and forth between nurses and the Ministry of Health over logistical issues, which resulted in one false start, Government will now throw open the doors of the Winston Scott Polyclinic on a round-the-clock basis to pilot the programme which the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has long pledged to implement to take some of the burden from the lone state hospital.
For now, regular service will continue at the David Thompson Health and Wellness complex, the second polyclinic earmarked for the 24-hour trial.
In a press conference convened at the main conference room at the Ministry of Health, following a meeting with nurses and their bargaining agents, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic revealed that Cabinet has taken the decision to consolidate the human resources originally earmarked to be shared between Winston Scott Polyclinic and the David Thompson Health and Wellness Complex, into the facility at Bay Street.
This would therefore mean that eight doctors and 14 nurses would boost the services at the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic, enabling it to function as an urgent care facility. The minister was reluctant to give a timeline for the start at the St John facility, noting that Government will use the pilot as a guide.
“We listened to all stakeholders and we are now satisfied that the best thing in the interest of the people of Barbados, the people who depend on health care, is to concentrate all of our resources in one polyclinic so that we could have this service started on July 1 and that is the Winston Scott Polyclinic,” said Bostic, who was accompanied at the press conference by Attorney General Dale Marshall.
However, it is unclear if the current nursing staff at the Winston Scott polyclinic, who had insisted that they would not be working the shift system, are happy with the new arrangement. Neither the nurses nor their bargaining agent, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) was present for the press conference. Before the start of the briefing acting General Secretary of the NUPW Delcia Burke told Barbados TODAY that she must first relay what had transpired in the meeting to her members before she could offer comment.
But Bostic is convinced that the new arrangement should satisfy the nurses, as only the specially-contracted staff will be working the graveyard shifts.
“We will wait and see what happens but with the new staff that has been contracted, we are now confident that we can start the 24-hour service. I believe that the staff at the Winston Scott polyclinic will certainly do everything that they can to continue to do the good job that they have been doing over the years,” said Bostic.
He further explained, “Winston Scott will be run as a 24-hour service and that 24 hours will consist of existing services and those members of staff who currently facilitate those services will continue to do so. The specially-contracted staff that we have brought on will facilitate the urgent care service that we are providing. They will be operating three shifts, but all of the other clinics will continue to function with the staff that has been doing so for several years.”
In the meantime, the Minister assured Barbadians that the quality of urgent care would be at the same standard as they would receive at the Accident and Emergency department at the lone state-owned hospital.
“We actually recruited 14 nurses and eight doctors as well as orderlies and medical records staff. The clinical staff, nurses and doctors, who would be operating the 24-hour service, actually did a certification course which was executed by the Accident and Emergency department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This was done so that we could be satisfied that there would be a seamless transition for patients who would normally be attending the Accident and Emergency. We are satisfied that the new staff is capable of doing what is required,” Bostic stressed. [email protected]