Daily Archives: February 14, 2009

Barbados News Media Refuse To Cover NUPW Press Release About Queen Elizabeth Hospital Doctors

Barbados Queen Elizabeth Hospital Washroom

Working Conditions At Barbados Queen Elizabeth Hospital - QEH washroom photo from an earlier Barbados Free Press story - click photo to read.

Editor’s Note: The below was anonymously submitted to Barbados Free Press. If any of our readers have any reason to question its authenticity or the accuracy of anything it says, please speak up. That’s how we fact-check at BFP: we encourage our readers to become involved.



Here it is as we received it, with the introductory paragraph…

The following is a Press Release concerning conditions affecting the Junior Doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It was submitted to the Print Media in Barbados by The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) on 2009-February 9. The Print Media has refused to carry it in whole or in part. The release was suppressed. It was apparently not considered important enough to be newsworthy. If you disagree (and I really hope you do), please feel free to pass it on via E-mail, Facebook, Myspace, MSN etc. The TRUTH must be told!

Conditions Facing Junior Doctors at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Q.E.H.)

The Junior Doctors of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are amongst the most hardworking and dedicated Civil Servants in the country. However the conditions under which they work are less than ideal and in many cases appalling.

Juniors Doctors make up the majority of doctors working at the Hospital. They are not allowed to have private patients or to charge any individuals fees for their services (either inside or outside the Hospital).

The term Junior Doctor is a very misleading one and must be clearly defined before we progress further. A Junior Doctor simply put is any doctor employed at the Hospital who is not a Consultant. This group encompasses House Officers (Interns) who have recently graduated and Senior Registrars, who hold post-graduate qualifications and are eligible to be appointed as Consultants should a vacancy arise. They are many other doctors who are between these two extremes included in this group. It is important to emphasize that the term Junior Doctor does not mean a young, inexperienced doctor or unskilled doctor.

Consultants are the leaders of the clinical team. They conduct ward rounds and provide invaluable input and guidance into the management of individual cases. Often the consultant’s directives are carried out by the Junior Doctors. These directives can range from simply carrying out various blood tests to performing complex surgical or invasive procedures.

It is therefore obvious that the Junior Doctors are a highly skilled, valuable and integral part of the clinical team and essential to the optimal functioning of the hospital. Currently the Junior Doctors at the Q.E.H. are working under very demanding and trying circumstances yet continue to give of their best.

Many Junior Doctors work seven (7) days a week and some are on call every third day (mainly in the Department of General Surgery). Rarely they can be on call on alternate days. When on call these doctors are responsible for providing care to inpatients as well as dealing with ALL emergency cases for a period of 24 hours. When “on call” finishes, these doctors are then required to work their regular working day. This results in many doctors working (and being in the Hospital) for 36 consecutive hours. Total working time often exceed 120 hours per week.

It is of note that most hospitals (including many in the Caribbean) have moved away from this system recognizing that it is exceedingly burdensome on the doctors.More importantly it may be dangerous to patients’ wellbeing because of the increase in medical errors that occur. Hospitals throughout the world (especially in Europe & U.S.A.) have actually limited the amount of hours a doctor can work to approximately 70 hours per week. Doctors can be (and have been) removed from hospital premises by security if found to be in contravention of this policy.

The working hours are but one of the Junior Doctors many concerns. Appropriate accommodation is another pressing concern of the Junior Doctors. There is not enough space for all of the Junior Doctors required to be on-call and in the hospital in any one night. This has resulted in some doctors having to sleep in chairs and on broken couches in plain view of each other in the Doctors’ Lounge. (Please also note here that the door to the Doctors’ Lounge does not have a functioning lock and thus free access to the area is open to all and sundry at ANYTIME throughout the day or night)

Even more worrying is that even with these makeshift sleeping arrangements, there is not enough room for all the Junior Doctors on-call and some have been forced to resort to sleeping in their cars. Clearly one can see this is an inherently dangerous and undesirable situation. Many cars have been broken into, including those of doctors on the Hospital premises.

To make matters worse the Junior Doctors are not provided with warm water in any part of their lounge and are therefore forced to shower in ice-cold water at all hours of the day and night.

The Junior Doctors Lounge is itself woefully inadequate. There are broken chairs and couches strewn throughout and there is not enough space for the over 150 Junior Doctors employed at the Hospital. Up to last year the doctors were competing for the sparse space in the lounge with an infestation of rats.

Also worrying is the fact that there is no canteen facility available for the doctors (or any of the Hospital staff for that matter). In essence, what this means is that The Junior Doctors are essentially forced to order in fast food or go for prolonged periods without eating. Doctors are consuming the same sugary and fatty foods that they tell their patients to avoid.

It is the norm that in hospitals of this size which by necessity are open 24 hours that there is a canteen catering to staff (and visitors) that is also open 24 hours a day. For example Kingston Public Hospital (in Jamaica) has facilities whereby an on-call doctor is provided with lunch, dinner and then breakfast the next day! The cafeteria at the QEH has been closed for years and all hopes of it being re-opened were dashed when they decided to use the existing space for a new clinic.

These are just a few of the many challenges that the Junior Doctors are facing. The logical question which begs to be asked is “What have the Junior Doctors’ done to improve their situation.” All of the aforementioned issues have been brought to the attention of the Hospital’s Administration. Despite being in constant negotiations with the Hospital Administration, the Junior Doctors have received little more than empty promises of improvement which have up to this time failed to materialize and conditions have continued to deteriorate rapidly.

The Junior Doctors perhaps have the worst physical amenities of any group employed to the Q.E.H. The conditions are certainly not up to the standard that trained professionals in ANY OTHER field (here or abroad) would expect or tolerate.

In terms of remuneration and compensation, the Juniors Doctors at the Q.E.H. are earning the lowest when compared to their counterparts in the Caribbean performing similar roles, our Junior Doctors are however working the longest hours in the worst physical surroundings.

The doctors at the QEH are at their ‘wits end’. They work ridiculous hours and are still expected to function. They have to sleep at the hospital but there is no where adequate to sleep (if they get to sleep at all); they have to eat but there is no food and on top of that, they have to bathe at the hospital but they have to do so in cold water! These doctors give their hearts and souls to their profession. All they are asking for is a salary commensurate with their hard work, improved working conditions and an environment that fosters morale and not discontentment.

In spite of the many challenges and difficulties facing the Junior Doctors they are committed to giving of their best. They love their jobs. All of them accept that some personal sacrifice is necessary by the nature of the practice of Medicine. They however remain hopeful that some improvements can be made to this untenable situation they find themselves in, before they transition from being doctors to patients.

Further Reading

Your Child Is Sick: Welcome To Barbados Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Filed under Barbados, Barbados News & Media, Consumer Issues, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Health, News Media

Barbados Prime Minister Thompson and The Arrogance Of Power

What possesses the leader of a political party to appoint someone who is viewed as the patron of his political party, who is the chairman of a major regional financial entity (CLICO Barbados), as the chairman of government-controlled/national broadcasting company? I asked myself that question at the time of the appointment…

This just seemed to be leading down the road of conflict of interest or just awkward situation sometime soon…

… The Trinidad arm of the chairman’s company hits the financial skids and needs government help. The opposition party leader in Barbados wants to make comments about the issue and is ‘denied’ airtime. Guess what? It does not smell right and only a dodo would not have seen the possibility of this doo-doo…

Why would you as head of government and Minister of Information to boot, put your government and yourself up for this awkward situation waiting to happen, even if you were not looking to push a platform of transparency and good governance? Is it part of the arrogance of power? Is it a blind spot for a friend and associate? Clear thinking? Good decisions?…

Living In Barbados Blog delivers a well-deserved blast to David Thompson in Another Fine Mess

Corrupt Thompson Doesn’t Give A Damn About Integrity, Transparency & Accountability

david-thompson-piggy-smlLike the arrogant and corrupt person who occupied the office before him, Prime Minister Thompson cares so little for integrity that he doesn’t even bother anymore to pretend that it matters to him.

Thompson appointed his financial supporter and business jet chauffeur Leroy Parris to be Chairman of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation – a state-controlled broadcaster. Thompson didn’t care how this looked and he obviously did it so his government could control the message of news media and also deny the Opposition BLP access to the Bajan public.

Yes, we know that the Barbados Labour Party did the same thing to the DLP when the situation was reversed.

Now, like a petulant and vengeful little child, David Thompson is misusing his power exactly the way that Owen Arthur did. Instead of setting a new ethical standard as he promised, Thompson has again proved that he cares for nothing but power. Power at any cost. Power and to hell with democracy or integrity or freedom of the press or anything else that stands in the way of his ability to continue in power and bestow the benefits of his power to his friends. Friends like Leroy Parris.

Nothing has changed.

Prime Minister Thompson, you damned liar: Where is your promised integrity legislation? Where is your Ministerial Code that prohibits Conflicts of Interest? Where is your Freedom of Information Act? Where is our country’s freedom of the press?

Same old, same old ’bout hey!

Further Reading

Living In Barbados Blog: Another Fine Mess


Filed under Barbados

House Built Under The Owen Arthur Regime Is Perfect Illustration Of Barbados Government

barbados-houseYour BLP Government At Work!

Nice little house, don’t you think?

Built in 2007 under the Owen Arthur government, it looks a little unfinished – or perhaps we should say it looks like everything else the government has anything to do with.

But this particular house has one very special feature that is quite noteworthy and was undoubtedly approved by someone – given that it exists. I mean, somebody built it!

What is sooooooo special about this home?

Ian Bourne has the full photo at The Bajan Reporter blog.


Do NOT go to Ian’s blog with a mouthful of beer or coke, because it will come up through your nose.  🙂

The Bajan Reporter: Bungalow House Build In Barbados Back In 2007 Under The Owen Arthur Regime


Filed under Barbados, Government

A Barbados Valentine’s Day With The Family – Trying To Find Time To Be Alone


So Much For A Night Out And A Day Off!

Marcus and I have had plans for stepping out tonight. So much for love and a little cuddling.

The little one is sick. Nothing serious I’m sure but still bad enough that we will stay home. (Auntie you are let off the hook for tonight but don’t forget we will use the rain check!)

Marcus and I do alright as a couple but between both of us have jobs and Marcus on nights mostly and the children and everything we have to plan way ahead and work hard to find time alone together. Not going to happen tonight my love.



Filed under Barbados