Public health nurses are stretched.
And as the numbers continue to be depleted due to retirement, holidays, certified and uncertified leave, the available skilled nurses are becoming more drained and, as a consequence, more stressed.
That was the assertion of Chief Public Health Nurse Anne Murrell, who this morning told Barbados TODAY that there was a need to recruit more skilled practitioners.
She said with the increased number of clients now utilising polyclinic services, certain services were tweaked in order to allow clients to be seen on a regular basis. But with limited staff to perform the same services as before, she argued, that could not continue forever.
However, the veteran health care worker maintained that the health of Barbadians were not at risk or being shortchanged as a result.
“Our nurses go beyond the call of duty. Even though they are stretched to the limit, the nurses are giving adequate care. As a matter of fact, nurses are even forfeiting their lunch hours. Nurses are working later than usual in order to make sure that the clients are seen. The fact that we are seeing an influx of clients coming into the clinics because persons are unable to pay for some of the services privately, we welcome them,” she said.
What Murrell wants, though, is for clients at the polyclinics to play their part in easing the situation by setting appointments before going to clinics and abiding by the times given.
“Operating under limited resources means that every minute is constructively utilised. The appointments can help us since we know the times that persons are coming. Some persons who get an 11:30/12 appointment, they may come 9. So it means that they are bundling in the clinic. So the public really are not using the appointment system appropriately,” she said.
“All our polyclinics are located along the bus route so persons have no problems getting there, but people think that ‘if I have a 12 o’clock appointment and I get there at 9, because I get to the polyclinics early I will be seen’, but we cannot always facilitate that . . . We want respect. We want persons to come in the clinics and wait their turn.
“We are actually looking at staffing at the moment. And I know that sooner or later we will have to ensure that we employ persons because persons are opting to retire and we will need persons replaced in those skilled areas. We need skilled nurses, persons who are fully trained that they will be able to do the work that is necessary,” Murrell added.