Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that his government always helps police officers injured on the job.
He was speaking at a press conference on Monday at which he responded to what he suggested were criticisms that his government does not assist police officers injured while driving or being driven on the job.
“You know, I saw some things and the Cabinet Secretary will come to me and I will say don’t talk yet,” Gonsalves said, but did not identify any specific case.
His comment comes within the context of media reports and commentaries about the response of his government to assist police constable Kwane Derrick, who was injured when a police vehicle in which he was travelling while on duty crashed in Prospect on April 12, 2017.
The accident resulted in Derrick suffering several injuries, including a left arm broken in four places.
Derrick was slated to undergo corrective surgery in Trinidad last Friday and some persons have noted the length of time that elapsed before he received the necessary medical attention.
Reports are that his insurance would cover 80 per cent of the cost of the surgery, while the government would fund the other 20 per cent.
Gonsalves told his media briefing that everyone knows the policy of his government: that the government assists individuals, as far as practicable, with medical assistance overseas.
“I don’t have to go through chapter and verse. It is well established,” he said, adding that before his government, there was EC$30,000 in the Ministry of Health to help buy tickets.
He said that his government now spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on such assistance, but noted that there are criteria.
“Clearly, if you have an insurance and the insurance pays 80 per cent, you make sure that the insurance company tells the healthcare provider in Trinidad or wherever that they will be footing 80 per cent. The 20 per cent, as has happened in many, many cases, the government pays it.
“What do some people want? For the government to pay 100 per cent and then you take the bill and get the 80 per cent from the insurance company?
“I am sure that nobody would want to do such a thing. I don’t think anybody would want to do such a thing. But it’s that what you hear the propagandist on the radio want to happen,” Gonsalves said, adding that he is sure that no public officer would do such a thing “because that is not in their nature.
“They are interested in getting their problem sorted out.
“Don’t throw blame where there is not blame,” he said, adding that sometimes the 20 per cent is $20,000, more or less.
The prime minister said that there was a police officer who had a Sagicor insurance policy and needed some specialised treatment that was available in Cuba.
He said he agreed and his government made the arrangements but Sagicor, under their rules, didn’t want to pay for the healthcare in Cuba because their region is CARICOM.
The prime minister said he dismissed the company’s policy as foolishness, adding that the treatment in Cuba is first class and cheaper.
“You know what happened? You can ask the Sagicor people here. I refused to see … the head of Sagicor who wanted to come here on a particular matter concerning Sagicor.
“So, all those who yap, they don’t know what they are talking about. This prime minister, we go out of our way to help Vincentians in a way that never happened before, and in relation to the public servants, very much so, and children,” Gonsalves said.