Knifeman held at clinic

Almost three weeks after a man wielded a knife at a nurse in the St Philip Polyclinic, authorities are investigating yet another incident involving a weapon at another polyclinic.

A man who entered the premises of the Branford Taitt Polyclinic on Black Rock Main Road, St Michael, allegedly carrying a knife last week Monday, was subsequently apprehended by police and charged.

A source at the clinic told the DAILY NATION the incident led to officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness visiting the facility to investigate the matter.

The source, stressing the incident left several workers shocked and shaken, said they were demanding tighter security measures be implemented at all public health care facilities on the island since “some of these patients coming in seem to be very angry”.

“You don’t know when these people will lash out for unknown reasons and then the nurse or the guard or whoever working in the facilities will get the backlash. What happened at St Philip Polyclinic and Branford Taitt are not isolated incidents. These incidents are real. Nurses are constantly threatened and they are up against a lot. Unless staff at the health care facilities come out and protest, nothing will happen,” the source declared.

When contacted, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Wayne Webster confirmed the incident. He pointed out that the security systems put in place at the polyclinic worked on that day given that the perpetrator was apprehended.

Webster warned Barbadians not to go to health care institutions with weapons because “you will be searched and if found in possession, you will be arrested and hopefully charged by the police.

“That is as crystal clear as I can be. Under no circumstances will we tolerate people entering health care facilities to access services who are in possession of weapons,” he said.

General secretary of Unity Workers Union (UWU) Caswell Franklyn has again called on authorities to prioritise the strengthening of security measures at all polyclinics, including having armed security personnel in place.

“Authorities must take all measures up to, and including, putting armed security at the polyclinics if it comes to that, because the patients are coming in armed. Contrary to what was said by the acting permanent secretary when the man wielded the knife at the nurse at the St Philip Polyclinic, this is not a one-off situation and Government must and is duty-bound to protect the lives of its employees.

“Employees are entitled to work in a place that is safe and the Government must do everything to ensure that these workers are not exposed to this type of danger. It is a legal requirement for the Government to provide a safe place of work and a safe system of work,”
he said.

“Put the measures in place at all health care institutions where we treat people for free because everybody comes in and you don’t know who is who. You can’t decide, well, they are not going to do this and then they do and then it is too late. I am also calling for specific legislation to deal with people who come into the workplace of nurses and threaten or harass them.

“You cannot abuse a policeman on the job, you cannot obstruct an immigration or customs officer for performing their duties. Well, we want similar legislation for nurses. It is time for that legislation now because the nurses are more exposed and vulnerable because they are mostly females,” Franklyn said. (AH)

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