NANCY Charles, The Director of Implementation in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has expressed surprise concerning the SLMDA’s letter to the Labour Ministry, in which it made clear its intention to take industrial action, given the conditions its members currently work under at the make-shift hospital at the George Odlum Stadium.
Charles has called for level heads and stated that only through dialogue — between the SLMDA and the Government—will an amicable solution occur.
In an exclusive interview with the Voice on Friday, the OPM Director of Implementation said “from our point of view we’re just very surprised at this latest release from the Medical and Dental Association because in spite of what’s being said out there, the government has continued to engage the Medical and Dental Association.”
She referenced “a meeting between Dr. St. Rose and Government officials to discuss some of the issues and concerns raised” which took place about a week before the Prime Minister commenced his vacation.”
“I know for a fact that they’ve had some concerns with St. Jude’s…” Charles stated “but this has not been a matter that has been at the forefront.”
She went on to explain that “most of the discussions being held with the Medical and Dental Association, has been with reference to healthcare in general, the transition to OKEU and so forth and yes to a certain extent some of the conditions that exist at St. Jude.”
However she maintained that she didn’t know “that the SLMDA has primarily sat down and said, ‘hey, we are not happy with the conditions at St. Jude hospital, we need you to do something immediately, or else…’” and that’s why to the Government “this letter or this notice is coming on just as a huge surprise…” Charles stated.
She also expressed that not only is the government surprised by this news but also disappointed.
When asked what the Government plans to do in case a strike actually does occur she said that they are still very optimistic that dialogue and engagement with the SLMDA will prevail and will ensure that a strike does not take place.
“Certainly one of the first things that the government would do is engage the SLMDA even before we plan for a strike. We would hope that we would be given an opportunity to have some sort of an engagement to determine what exactly the cause of concern is. What are some of the critical areas that they have identified that they need rectified and perhaps we could have that discussion in determining how do we fix it…So we will not be planning for a strike; we’re planning for dialogue, because this is the only way to solve issues and problems not striking and not taking action as such.”
Charles then made reference to a report done by the Ministry of Infrastructure back in 2015 which “indicated that the roof was posing a hazard to human life and other issues”; before pointing out that “the Medical and Dental Association coincidentally was in existence” back in 2015 when this report came out, “Dr. St. Rose was at the head (of the SLMDA) at that time…” and yet to her surprise “they didn’t say anything then…”
The Implementation Director went on to give a brief overview of the works that are being and have been done at the George Odlum Stadium.
“We have completely removed the fibre glass coating that is over the roof. Anybody who goes to Vieux Fort would see that that has been completely removed and what the contractor is now doing is just applying the finishing touches and just going around and ensuring that there are no bits and pieces of metals, or plates or anything…that may pose a hazard so they’re just clearing up.”
She concluded by stating “Of course government remains committed to ensuring the completion of St. Jude hospital…”