Tuesday 14 July, 2020

Stinging response from transport boss about PPVs boycotting nurses

Egeton Newman

Egeton Newman

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has expressed concerned over reports that a number of the island’s public transport operators are refusing to carry nurses from medical institutions across the countries amid concerns about the coronavirus.

The minister, in a voice clip that is circulating on social media, said he has received disturbing reports that taxi operators are claiming they are afraid to interact with the medical personnel because they are the ones treating people diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The minister described the development has unfortunate.

“These transport operators need to stop it now,” Tufton said. “Our nurses carry out their duties with appropriate protective gear, whether it is coronavirus or any other patient with any other ailment, and taxi drivers could put their own licences in jeopardy if they are found to be discriminating against our nurses. I'm very serious about that,” said Tufton.

Dr Christopher Tufton

He said the Government will do all that it can to assist the nurses at the level of the hospitals and, in fact, next week the Administration will be “unveiling five new buses that were bought to provide transport support for our nurses”.

The head of one transport group has since reacted to the comments from the minister.

According to Edgeton Newman, head of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), he is in full support of the transport operators’ concerns and actions.

“Yes, I have heard it and you know I smiled at the news because the fact is, when things are going well, we (taxi and bus operators) are considered as weapons of mass destruction, but when things like these arise, we are seen as essential groups, and we should do all we can to move people around,” said Newman.

“We are saying we are just as concerned (about the coronavirus) as any other group or institution in this country. We are concerned about our health and safety, and therefore, we have to take all the necessary precautions.

“Therefore, if an operator believes that it is in his or her best interest not to carry a nurse practitioner, he should not be forced to do so,” added Newman

“It is unfortunate that this stance has been taken by several operators to whom we advised yesterday to seize operation because there was not much attention being placed on the public transport sector by the Government (amid the coronavirus developments globally and in Jamaica),” stated Newman.

“So we think that it is in the hands of the individual operator to decide what he does or what he does not do at this moment.

“We are in full support of whatever action is taken by the public transport sector at this time,” concluded Newman.

He said a meeting is to be held with taxi operators on Sunday at 1pm, to decide if they should continue to provide their services to members of the public in light of their concerns about the coronavirus.

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