By Kadeem Joseph
Disgruntled workers at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) are adamant that they will be back on the protest lines if the hospital’s administration does not propose an adequate resolution relating to the near $4 million owed in risk allowance.
On Monday, about 30 staff members staged a protest outside the Michael’s Mount facility in hopes that the administrators would realise that “enough is enough”.
Joan Peters, the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA), told Observer on Tuesday that she had not yet received an update from the hospital and maintained that, failing satisfactory answers, workers will meet at 10am today to determine the way forward.
In a press statement issued Monday night, MSJMC acknowledged its “delay with meeting its obligations for employee risk-payment”, noting that a whopping $3.7 million remains outstanding.
“While we continue to do everything that we can to meet these obligations MSJMC has had to face challenges not unfamiliar to many organisations across the globe – and, like other hospitals, have had to make very tough decisions regarding escalating healthcare costs and all of the other pressures associated with operating a healthcare facility especially during this time,” the release said.
The statement noted that the hospital is taking “every possible action” to address the challenges that are being faced.
The press statement explained that the hospital’s efforts to meet monthly expenditure of risk allowances is dependent on funds received from the government, “which remains obligated to meet the outstanding payments in as much as available resources allow”.
MSJMC indicated that it has paid a total of $1,958,895.29, with the latest payment made on March 15 last year.
Conceding that the responsibility to settle payments “has undoubtedly been constrained over recent months”, the statement from the hospital stopped short of giving a date for the continuation of outstanding payments.
But it said that “discussions have been escalated toward earnestly confirming what financial resources can be made available in the shortest possible time to avert further disruptions and trust that the coming days will reveal an acceptable timetable to all concerned”.
The hospital’s administration has said, however, in the event of any industrial action and staff shortage, the requisite contingency plans are in place to ensure that patient care and safety are not compromised.