The planned strike action by the Public Service Union for next Tuesday through Friday has forced the suspension of regular district clinic operations and elective surgeries across the country.
In a letter to Governor General Dame Susan Dougan on Aug. 23, the PSU informed the head of state that the union has decided “to withdraw the labour of all essential workers of the Crown for the period September 7th – 10th, 2021”.
The union has taken the decision in objection to changes to the Public Health Act, which will see some workers forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine if they are to remain in their jobs.
Further, as a result of changes to the Medical Officers Act, which was also passed into law on Aug. 5, public sector workers for whom vaccination is required will have to get the final approval of doctors specially selected by the state, if they are to be exempted, on medical grounds, from taking the vaccine.
The doctors will have the final say, regardless of what the worker’s personal physician says.
The law, as currently drafted, could be applied to any health condition as a result of which a public health emergency is declared.
In a press release sent to the media on Friday, the Ministry of Health said that regular district doctor clinics will not be held at state-operated health centers across St Vincent and the Grenadines for the period Sept. 8 to 10.
The ministry said that persons with existing appointments for these clinics are asked to call their health centres to reschedule.
Further, only emergency services will be offered at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and the Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre in Georgetown for the period Sept. 8 to 10.
Emergency services can also be accessed at Levi Latham Health Smart Hospital and Chateaubelair Hospital.
“There will be no regular elective surgeries or outpatient clinics. Persons are asked to call to be advised and to reschedule their appointments,” the press release said.
It said that haemodialysis services will continue at the Evesham Health Centre.
COVID-19 exit screening services and vaccination services will continue at all facilities.