The Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic has intervened in the pay crisis involving nurses at the Psychiatric Hospital.
Word of this came tonight from president of the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) Joannah Waterman, who said she and her executive met this week with Minister Bostic to discuss “sporadic” pay, appointments and other concerns of the profession.
Waterman told Barbados TODAY that based on assurances from Bostic she hopes the situation where nurses at the Psychiatric Hospital have not been paid for upwards six months would soon be a thing of the past.
“He has actually assured us that he has put a mechanism in place to correct the problem. They are working feverishly right now to correct it . . . . They have actually been able to correct some of it, but there are a number of outstanding ones . . . and they will be working to correct the remaining issues. That is what we have been told by the Minister and we are very happy with that,” the BNA leader said.
“We are looking now to see that within a couple of months, we hope, that that would no longer be an issue for those for whom there are currently outstanding payments . . . . People have been ‘hanging for’ three, four, five months,” Waterman explained.
Pointing out that the pay problem was more than having enough money available, the association president placed some of the blame squarely at the feet of those public servants who handle the paperwork.
“I do think it is more than just having monies in the kitty. It is really more about some attitudes and a bureaucratic approach to the welfare of individuals. It really is a problem overall for how persons handle it. They seem to address the paperwork with ‘Oh I could put that to one side’, rather than think that this is about the welfare of a person who has to work really hard and feed their families,” Waterman argued.
She revealed that the matter of outstanding appointments for scores of staff and registered nurses along with nursing assistants is also being addressed by the health minister.
“This minister is assuring us that a system will also be in place to correct these outstanding vacancies. So we will wait to see. I know that recently they have corrected the top-level vacancies . . . the principal nursing officers…but we have the senior nursing officers; we have scores of staff nurses, registered nurses and nursing assistants still waiting to be appointed,” Waterman stated.
These concerns of the Psychiatric Hospital nurses are also getting the attention of their bargaining unit – the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).
Lamenting that the health care providers continue to suffer as a result of not being paid for upwards of six months, acting General Secretary of the NUPW Delcia Burke announced this afternoon she would be taking matter straight to the Personnel Administration Division (PAD) on Monday.
“On Monday I intend to go to the PAD. I am trying to get together all the names, so I would not be duplicating and take them to the PAD and see if I can have the matter resolved,” Burke told Barbados TODAY.
She recalled that the union has been in contact with the PAD urging officials to pay the nurses.
“Our understanding is that persons down there still have not been paid for three and six months. The union would have called PAD to ask them to prepare for persons to be paid. They usually do the payments after a report comes from the respective departments. I am not sure if that is the reason it has been delayed,” the senior union spokeswoman said.
On Wednesday, a nurse who said she was speaking on behalf of her hospital co-workers told Barbados TODAY that the situation was reaching boiling point with some nurses ready to walk off the job.
The nurses said they were at their wits’ end over the non-payment concerns which have not been settled despite assurances by Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.
Back in October at a service held at Abundant Life Church to celebrate Mental Health Month that Lt. Col. Bostic assured the workers at the Psychiatric Hospital that they would receive overdue wages.
The nurse who preferred to remain anonymous said they still have not been paid and that some of them had also become frustrated at not being appointed to permanent posts.
Minister Bostic could not be reached today for any further comment.