Left in limbo

An employee looks at the empty sterilisation department at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) yesterday.

PORT OF SPAIN — Protest action at the North Central Regional Health Authority is starting to negatively impact the quality of care at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

Following a visit to the facility by the Express yesterday afternoon, a lot of out-patients were seen waiting to be attended to at the reception and pharmacy areas but there was limited staff.

One of the out-patients – who did not want to be identified – was waiting to be seen by the sole pharmacist and told the Express he had come to the hospital earlier in the morning but had a long wait and decided to go to work.

“I had number 45, but that time they were on number ten and it was moving slow, so I went to work and come back and like they start back over because is on number 17. So it looks like I have to wait again,” he said.

At the hospital, signs could be seen posted throughout, advising patients they would experience long waiting times because of the lack of staff. And yesterday, the NCRHA placed advertisements in the newspapers, advising the public as such as well.

Employees attached to the sterilisation unit said they normally have 30 people on staff but as a result of the protest action, they now have seven.

“It’s a tight shift, and we are trying, but we have a lot of issues that need to be addressed ranging from the lack of NIS payments to no air conditioning here,” said one employee who requested anonymity.

Confirming the service disruption was NCRHA chairman, Dr Ashvin Sharma, who said it was directly related to the protest action undertaken by the Public Service Association.

The PSA, incensed by the inaction of management to settle long-outstanding arrears and the NCRHA’s decision to establish a public private partnership at the facility, has been protesting for close to two weeks now using sick-outs.

As such, Sharma said a decision was taken by the board to withdraw the Expression of Interest for the PPP as advertised in the daily newspapers “because it’s what the PSA wants”.

“Let us be clear, patients are our first and foremost concern and in an attempt to normalise service, this decision was taken,” he said.

Sharma added that surgeries were being affected by the protest because the lack of ancillary staff.

“On a day-to-day basis, different workers decide to join the protest, sometimes its radiology, sometimes its the kitchen staff and sometimes its medical records.

“When this happens, some surgeries have to be rescheduled,” he said. (Express)

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