NEW YORK, USA – In a strange and disparaging address to a town hall meeting in Brooklyn, New York, last week while he was attending the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Grenada’s prime minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, speaking to an auditorium of Grenadian and Caribbean nationals, decried the level of stealing taking place in the local hospital by doctors, nurses and other support staff at the hospital.

The town hall meeting, which was supposed to be an update on the status of the election campaign commitment in March 2018 that universal healthcare for Grenada was on the way, Mitchell, flanked by minister for health, Nikolas Steele, nodding his head in agreement, said: “We could put 100 more doctors, 100 more nurses… and the… the mindset of the people and the level of incompetence; the level of stealing taking place in the hospital. The more you buy things the more they steal. It’s a fact!”

Mitchell went on to assert that: “You talk to people at different levels. Not one set of people, we’ve got doctors doing it, we’ve got nurses doing it, we’ve got orderlies doing it, security people doing it… The more meat you buy, more meat disappear”, which elicited chuckles and laughter from the audience.

The Junior Doctors Association of Grenada quickly responded to Mitchell’s statements, saying: “We are profoundly aggrieved by the slanderous claims made by the nation’s leader that smears all staff as dishonest and incompetent. Physicians and nurses do not have access to the hospital food supply no more than do orderlies or security staff. We believe that these words cast contempt on individuals who spend a large portion of their time and personal funds sacrificing and labouring for the fellow humans in often discouraging circumstances.

“These statements made, encourage the public to disrespect and belittle professionals who go beyond the call of duty to ensure the well-being of their fellow Grenadians. The disrespect exemplified by the leading public figure will be reflected in the attitude of those with whom we interact in the Emergency Department and the wards.

“We hereby clear ourselves of these unfair accusations and appeal to our leader to retract his derogatory statements.”

This is not the first time after the last general elections that PM Mitchell has made controversial comments caught on video.

In late April, leaked footage of a meeting held during the 2018 Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in London, Dr. Mitchell admitted to there only being just a slight possibility of oil and natural gas being discovered in the territorial waters of Grenada, and further drilling and direct confirmation is needed.

This was despite having said at a campaign rally just three days before the March 2018 general election that oil had definitively been found.

The universal healthcare campaign promise is also delayed.

The status of the programme, which was a campaign promise of Mitchell’s New National Party from the February 2013 general elections and also again in the March 2018 general elections, is no closer to fruition than when previously promised, despite having numerous United Nations studies and Inter-American Development Bank-led health sector technical support being granted.

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