Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 14, 2017 : Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, Minister of State with the responsibility for Health said that the physical toll on those who work in the healthcare system from crime and violence is relatively high.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in support of the Firearms Amendment Bill, Senator Phipps empathized with all those who tirelessly work in the health sector and who can be additionally burdened by dealing with patients, who are victims of violent crime.
“The physical toll on healthcare workers is relatively high,” said Senator Phipps, as she explained that workers are often called back into duty after working extended shifts due to firearm related injuries and emergencies. She added that many times, after extended shifts due to emergencies, these workers are required to show up to work the following day, regardless of their physical well-being.
“The full quantum of the burden on our healthcare system is considerable when one takes into account the operational costs to the hospital, use of ambulance, the Accident and Emergency Department preoccupation with victims of gun violence at the expense of others, perhaps less critical patients…,” conveyed the Honourable Phipps, while stressing the negative effects that gun violence has on the healthcare system.
Highlighting the inconvenience that gun related crimes have on society, Senator Phipps also added that “In a number of these cases, the patients of gun violence are ill equipped to settle their bills with the hospital, although the cost of their care can be astronomical.”
She also added that there is a sense of fear among the healthcare workers who care for victims of gun violence, who may still be targeted by their assailants or criminals.
“The collateral damage we should note, from crime and violence, has taken its toll on our Social Services Department on both St. Kitts and Nevis. We are well aware that crime of any kind results in no winners,” said Senator Phipps while articulating that the after effects of gun violence have consequences for both sides.
Senator Phipps also spoke on the need for increased services relating to gun violence, as a result of these crimes, such as counselling, mentorship programmes, diversion programmes, public assistance, and life skills training.
“It is evident that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is doing everything possible to prevent crime and violence in the federation,” said Senator Phipps, as she listed some of what the government intends to do to address the growing concern of violence in the federation.
Listed among the improvements to combat crime and violence were an increase in firearm penalties and the implementation of various programmes geared towards crime reduction.