With the Guyana Public Service Union holding firm to its threat to call a full strike at the Georgetown Hospital if moves are not made to address the concerns and demands of health care workers, the hospital has started to put systems in place for a possible shortage of staff.
In a memo to Heads of Department at the hospital, the Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey said industrial action could cripple the hospital’s ability to perform its functions.
He said the heads of the various departments in the hospital should start identifying personnel who will be willing to work and facilitate medical care to patients.
Staff members who are willing to provide essential services in caregiving should also be arranged and services to the hospital’s emergency unit will have to be reduced, Dr. Jeffrey wrote.
The Director of Medical Services is also recommending that once the nurses and other healthcare workers go on a full strike, moves are made to discharge admitted patients who will not be adversely affected.
Doctors are also likely to be asked to assist in performing additional functions once the nurses go on strike and visitation at the hospital will be eliminated completely excepted for those family members who will want to remove patients, the Medical Director explained.
The Guyana Public Service Union has given the Government and the Hospital management 72 hours to begin a process that will see the concerns of health workers being addressed. The clock on that 72-hour ultimatum started ticking yesterday.
The Government has not responded to the ultimatum so far. The Health Minister has been asking for the health workers to be patient with the Government and has pointed to the recent allocation of $150 Million in the budget to support frontline workers.
The nurses have been calling for an increase in their risk allowance and other allowances, improved salaries and the consistent supply of protective gear as they fight COVID-19.