COVID-19 update with Head of the Health Communications Team, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson. (PMO)

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has received a $3 million injection of funds to make the necessary hazard payments to its frontline staff.

Head of the COVID-19 Health Communications Team, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, made this disclosure last night during a press briefing to bring Barbadians up-to-speed on a number of matters. She said those frontline workers should be receiving the money soon.

Ambassador Thompson, who flew into the island on Saturday and is currently in quarantine at a hotel, said: “That hazard pay … was part of a vote that went to the QEH to do with COVID and a range of other issues, and the hazard pay itself is the sum of $3 million. So, all of the money voted for hazard pay is now with the QEH ….

“I know that this has been a deeply distressing delay for you, and it is not a policy failure but … system challenges, which we are fighting in every instance and … Government is doing its utmost to correct them.”

Insisting that the hazard payment was the outstanding issue and not salaries, she noted that doctors had received their salaries and on call and other allowances on time.

On Sunday evening, Executive Chair of the QEH, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, issued a statement explaining that the Ministry of Finance had advised that the awaited supplementary funds for hazard payment for QEH frontline staff working at isolation centres, AED, EAS should soon be available.

Ambassador Thompson also disclosed that frontline workers at Harrison Point would be getting psychological support to deal with any challenges they were facing as a result of working on the frontline.

“A decision has been made that frontline workers at Harrison Point, who are having severe challenges from dealing with…the stress of working on the frontlines, with a disease like this, will be entitled to psychological or psychiatric support or counseling support, if they want it.

“And, if they feel they need it, this will be offered by Government to help to equip them to do their job well, and to allow them to function optimally while they are on the frontlines,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Thompson said the number of calls to the call centre went from an average of 1,700 to 31,000, and the matter was being addressed urgently.

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