A total of 19 security officers will be dismissed from the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) in the near future. However, Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton explained that the dismissal is not merely a cost saving venture but rather safety initiative.
Questions about the situation of the security officers were raised by Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Fahie during the continuation of the House of Assembly on 8 March. It was during that exchange that the news of the Authority’s plans to outsource its security needs was revealed.
Minister Skelton stated that the BVI Health Services Authority is in the process of reorganizing to improve efficiency and increase its focus on delivery of clinical care. In making the point that it is more than just a cost saving option Hon. Skelton stated: “At the end everything boils down to the money but it is more about security services: security at the hospital, especially during times of critical patients. The money sometimes might take a backseat – but it is about security at the hospital.”
This, he undelined, is in keeping with the Authority strategic goal to continue to strengthen clinical health services delivery through three main objectives which are: to seek accreditation; to implement the new health information system; and to increase the use of technology to enhance security of the patient, staff and equipment as part of the reorganizing process.
The Health Minister disclosed that the decision to layoff the security officers and hire a professional security service came after an assessment was done of the security unit. Following this assessment Hon. Skelton said that a decision was made to investigate the outsourcing of security services.
However, it was noted that this outsourcing decision will not take immediate effect. “Madame Speaker, the outsourcing of security services will occur within six months to allow the following things to happen: one – placement of a tender notice in the media inviting companies to make proposals based on a defined request for proposals; two – a technical review of proposals received and submission of recommendation to the Board; and three the determination of accurate payments of entitlements due to staff.”
Hon. Skelton noted that the provision of three months notice to staff and the payment of entitlement due to staff as well as notification of the Commissioner of Labour of the possible termination of employment needs to take place before the outsourcing can commence.
In reference to the staff being dismissed Hon. Skelton explained some would be able to find placement in other areas within the BVIHSA: “The security personnel will have the option of transferring to other departments within the Authority with vacancies or seeking employment with the security firm that is selected by the tender.”
It was noted that of the 19 officers being let-go — 16 are assigned to the Peebles Hospital; and of that 16 security officers, 11 are belongers. “We have some good people working at the hospital in security services. I have an obligation as the Minister responsible for the subject, as an At Large Representative to make sure BV Islanders are hired and not be sent home. I will ensure that it is done.”
“Again it is about security we need someone who is trained in security — understand what it takes to secure a hospital and that is what we are looking for at this point in time. So that the administration of the hospital and the staff can get on with giving the services that they’re required by the general public,” he added.