The cost of sister island medical travel was discussed by members of a Virgin Islands Party (VIP) panel during the Let’s Talk radio program that was aired on 4 February.
In noting the current difficulties residents from the island of Virgin Gorda face, Chairman of the Party, Hon. Julian Fraser said: “It was drawn to my attention – and this is not something that everyone does not already know – that a person in Virgin Gorda is double jeopardized by the fees of the Health Services Authority. It all has to do with discretion, discretion that can only be exercised through policy which has to be made through central government.”
It is not right for a person on Virgin Gorda, which is part of the Virgin Islands, to have to pay an ambulance to go to the clinic, incur a fee there; then pay the ambulance from the clinic to a boat or plane; and pay the boat or plane; then pay the ambulance from the boat or plane to Peebles Hospital; and then incur a fee there.”
“That is a total of six fees incurred. If that same person was on Tortola, they would only incur the last two fees. Which is an ambulance charge and hospital fee,” the VIP Chairman announced.
Hon. Fraser, who explained that he was not blaming the BVI Health Services Authority, stated that it his belief that the issue he mentioned is one of the areas that any government has to look at to ensure that there is equitable treatment of all citizens.
The matter of additional medical fees for sister island residents was also mentioned by Virgin Islands Party panelist Rajah Smith who noted that persons on Jost Van Dyke are also affected. He commented: “The government used to pay medical vat for the people of Jost Van Dyke to come to Tortola; the government stopped that and that ain’t right.” “If you get sick on Jost Van Dyke, you got to have $300 before you could ask the boat man to bring you to Tortola; that ain’t right. I made enquiries to the Minister and, up to yet, I ain’t got no response. That ain’t right. Sick people need help! If they had a hospital, they wouldn’t have to go through that.”