The heads of three organisations representing heathcare workers on the island have reacted sharply to offensive statements made by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell at a Townhall Meeting in Brooklyn, New York in which he labelled some of them as thieves.
The Presidents of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Grenada Nurses Association (GNA), and the Grenada Junior Doctors Association GJDA) held a press conference Monday to call on Prime Minister Mitchell to retract his statement alluding to in-house pilfering at the General Hospital and to offer an apology for maligning the character of the workers there.
PWU President, Rachael Roberts told reporters that her body is disappointed with the statement in which the Grenadian leader was heard accusing doctors and nurses of stealing items from the hospital.
She described the statement as “derogatory” and “heartless” and pointed out that the health professionals are “aggrieved” over the issue.
“As we normally say, health is our wealth and to have our Prime Minister make statements that undermine the integrity of the health care system and the competence of our members is very, very sad and it affects us, not just because they are statements that are damaging to us but because they are statements that can have psychological effects and are having psychological effects on our members…”, she said.
According to Roberts, the words used in New York by PM Mitchell can affect the character of the healthcare workers as well as “their competency, skills and knowledge and their ability to perform their duties and we ask our Prime Minister to (retract) those statements, to make an apology to our health care professionals and our support staff also”.
“We believe that as a leader understanding the negative implications of your statements, Mr. Prime Minister, we expect that an apology would be forthcoming,” remarked Roberts.
“We do not want that apology to just be made within Grenada, it must also be made internationally – so we want the diaspora to hear the apology because the derogatory statements were made in the diaspora…”, she said.
The PWU boss pointed out that there have been no reports of wrongdoing in the health care system and no report of an investigation being made into alleged wrong-doing.
She felt that the statement made by the Prime Minister could follow the health professionals into the future.
Roberts said “This (statement) does not just imply that healthcare professionals are unprofessional, are not performing their duties efficiently but it will impact on them throughout their healthcare life, internationally and locally.
“…It means as healthcare professionals, other persons would be looking at them negatively and should they want to go overseas, migrate or want to take up employment elsewhere, this statement would definitely impact on all of us.
“… It also undermines the quality of healthcare system here in Grenada – that persons overseas would see our doctors and nurses as incompetent, so please Mr. Prime Minister retract your statement.
Roberts said she was confident that the Prime Minister would offer an apology to the health professionals as being demanded by the organisations representing them.
“He is the leader of our nation and leaders when they err are big enough to come out and say I have erred and I apologise. So, we expect that apology and we would not say, we do not want to think that our Prime Minister is so egoistic that he would not want to apologise to the nation.
“That (apology) would raise the respect of the Prime Minister if he apologise because it would demonstrate that our Prime Minister is one who is humble, he is a person who respects justice and who has the interest of the nation at heart. So, we expect an apology, we are confident that he would apologise because we know that he is a man of integrity.
“… We know that he would apologise and we know that our Prime Minister is a God-fearing person and we know what the bible teaches…we know that our Prime Minister would apologise – there’s no two ways about it, we’re confident about that.”
Prime Minister Mitchell issued a statement on Monday to clear up misunderstandings over what was stated at the Town Hall Meeting in New York, but Roberts responded by saying it only adds to what he has already stated in New York and “does not address the incompetency that he spoke about.”
GJDA President Marvin Corion stated that Grenada’s relationship with the American-owned St. George’s University (SGU) could be affected by the utterances of the Prime Minister.
Corion said: “The statement implicates just more than healthcare throughout the nation, but in a sense, what our dear Prime Minister (should) be cognizant of, is that we have a university on the island and we have students from around the globe coming to that university and many of these students they attend our hospital to receive training.
“What are we saying about the quality of education that these people are receiving at our hospital? What is our Prime Minister saying? Is there merit to what he is saying? Is there truth to the level of incompetence that he speaks of? This is very damaging to us as a country. That university (SGU) contributes