Not a single nurse was victimised in the introduction of 24-hour service at the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic, the Minister of Health – strongly backed by the Prime Minister – has declared, as he sought to dispel rumours that nurses were forced to conform to Government’s newest medical initiative.
While describing the round-the-clock care initiative as being ‘extremely successful’ so far, Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic said all of the nurses’ and unions’ concerns had been fully addressed before its launch on July 1.
At a post-Cabinet press briefing at Government Headquarters, he said: “I can tell you that there is no such thing as victimization within the polyclinics in that regard certainly.
“The issues that were raised by the nurses and the unions were all satisfied even before we opened the 24-hour service; transportation, safety and security, environmental issues, appointment of nurses, we have satisfied every requirement that was put to us.
“And that is why we were able to commence the service on July 1,”
Describing the 24-hour service as running “extremely well”, Lt Col Bostic said it had taken much of the strain off the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
He revealed that within its first month he anticipates that over 3,000 people would have used the new after-hours medical care service.
He said “That service has been going since July 1 and from all reports and from my own observations it is doing extremely well.
“For the first two weeks of the service, the polyclinic saw approximately 1,400 persons with the majority of persons coming between 8 a.m. and midnight.
“After midnight there has been less traffic, around 10 per night, but these numbers we expect to increase as time goes on.
“In fact, we anticipate that by the end of the first month the 24-hour service should have seen about 3,000 persons.
“This, of course, has started to have a positive impact on patient flow at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“It has been going so far quite well and the feedback has been good.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley also gave reporters her word that nurses had not been victimized in getting the initiative up and running.
She said things had gone smoothly and a 24-hour service is to be offered at the David Thompson Health and Wellness Centre in St John within the coming weeks.
She insisted that Government had listened to the needs and concerns of both the nurses and unions.
The Prime Minister said: “Let me just say on this issue of victimization, because sometimes you have to take it and deconstruct it for people, the nonsense of allegations of victimization from the Ministry of Health is that it is the Ministry of the Public Service that deals with terms and conditions and contracts of these people.
“In some instances when you were hearing that people weren’t doing it anymore it was because the people who had volunteered to do it wanted to do it at the David Thompson polyclinic, which is in St John, and that will come on board hopefully in another four to six weeks, but we agreed with the unions that we would do a testing phase.
“We wanted to do both upfront; they said no; that they wanted one at a time and we’ve done it. I would now like to bring the same happiness to the people of St Philip, St John, St Joseph, St Andrew, St George and the people from St Lucy may decide that it is better to come down the coast and go to the David Thompson than to come in town.”
Lt Col Bostic also revealed that a team from Barbados would be headed to Ghana next month to recruit nurses.
He said while 20 local registered nurses were already going through the process of being vetted for jobs, they were looking at bringing a further 78 nurses to make up the shortfall.
The Health Minister said Government had taken a decision not to recruit nurses from other Caribbean territories because they were also dealing with nursing shortages.